Friday, 29 October 2010

Peaches in Champagne

I am always on the look-out for an eye catching dessert which is not only delicious but has real feel good factor too and this has to be one of my favourites. It is surprisingly easy to make yet so rare to see it served these days. That is why it is great for that very special private dinner party!

You will need for 4 servings:

4 ripe white peaches
500ml dry champagne
350ml of sorbet syrup
1 small vanilla pod
250g strawberries
150g castor sugar
250ml double cream
juice of half lemon
4 fresh mint leaves


Plunge the peaches into boiling water for 30 seconds then into cold water and when cool, peel. Place the peeled peaches into a shallow pan and add the champagne,syrup and vanilla. On a low heat bring gently to the boil and poach at 85 degrees for around 5/6 minutes or when soft. Remove from heat and keep the peaches in a cool place. The peaching liquid should be chilled in the refrigerator.

Rub the strawberries through a fine sive over a bowl and add the sugar to the pulp. Whip the cream until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted then stir in the strawberry pulp and the lemon juice.

Serve the peaches in glass dishes or small bowls. Pour the strawberry mousse over the bottom of the dishes and place a cold (not chilled) peach on top. Place the mint leaf on top of the peach and serve the champagne separately in a sauceboat.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Noisettes of venison with cramberries

Brittany is fortunate in having plenty of wild deer and come October all the local farmers are out and about with their guns! Make sure you are visible if your out in the woods collecting mushrooms! If you are not a member of the hunting club then join up immediately or make friends with someone who is! Failing that source a good gamekeeper or licensed butcher.

You will need for 6 persons:

1 saddle of roe deer
200g cranberries
1 ts thyme flowers
3 ts crushed black peppercorns
100ml olive oil
100ml port
30g castor sugar
half an orange
half a lemon
2 medium carrots
1 large onion
1 stick celery
2 garlic cloves
50g flour
50ml cognac
150ml red wine vinegar
1L red wine (Gamay-style)
1L veal stock
1 sprig of thyme
100g foie gras (preferably raw)
50g butter

First cut out the 2 fillets from the bone; trim off the skin,sinews and nerves and keep to one side. Remove the 2 fillet mignons from underneath the saddle. Cut the large fillets into 12 or 18 noisettes and place in a shallow dish with the 2 fillets mignions. Sprinkle over with the thyme flowers, peppercorns and olive oil and leave in a cool place for 3 hours.

Put the port, sugar, and the orange and lemon zests into a pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, add the cramberries and let it bubble for 30 seconds. Keep at room temperature

For the pepper sauce first preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Break up the bones from the saddle and place into a roasting pan with the venison trimmings. Brown the bones on all sides in the hot oven. Slice the carrot and onions into rings and finely chop the celery. Add the vegetables to the roasting pan along with the unpeeled garlic clove. After a few minutes, sprinkle with flour and roast for a further 10 minutes. Remove the contents from the pan into a large saucepan.

Deglaze the roasting pan with the cognac and vinegar. Set it over a high heat, pour in the wine and ignite. Simmer for 5 minutes then pour the liquid over the bones in the saucepan. Add the veal stock, the remaining crushed peppercorns and the thyme and simmer gently for two and a half hours skimming as necessary.

Pass the sauce contents through a conical sieve pressing the mixture with the back of a spoon to ensure all the wonderful juices are fully extracted. Return the sauce to a pan and keep warm.

Place a sauté over a high heat and without adding any fat, brown the venison noisettes and the filet mignonsfor 1 minute on each side. Keep them pink in the middle and warm.

Drain off the fat from the pan, deglaze with the juice from the cramberries, then add the pepper sauce. Rub the foie gras through a fine sieve and add to the sauce. Slowly add in the butter ensuring mixture does not boil. Add the cranberries and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, lay the 2 filet mignions in the centre of a shallow dish and arrange the noisettes around the sides. Pour over the boiling hot sauce and serve immediately.

Where do our students stay when cooking with us?

Student Lodge (1) Garden and patio

Student Lodge (1) Lounge

Student Lodge (1) Balcony level 1 (4 bed)

Student Lodge (1) External from road

Student Gite (2) 2 Bed Courtyard View

Student Gite (3) 4 bed with loads of space

There are a variety of wonderful places to stay around Kerrouet and so it very much depends upon the students themselves. We are often asked why don't we put up students within the school itself but the answer to that is simply to give the students a break when they are not cooking! Believe me they need it as do our chefs too!

We use up to four different houses all local to the village. The nearest is Lodge 1 which has 4 bedrooms, a large lounge and kitchen where students can relax and a lovely garden to sunbathe in!

Gite 2 has 2 bedrooms and is a complete unit with a beautiful courtyard.

Gite 3 is up the road a few minutes away and sleeps 4 easily with lots of space. There are other spaces available too so no one need worry on the accommodation front.

It is good to have a place to relax when not cooking although we allow students to utilise the rest rooom at Kerrouet House so that they may avail of wifi facilities. There are also facilities for washing clothes as well. Students make their own breakfasts but will have coffee/tea on arrival each day of the course at 10am and there is plenty of food during lunch and dinner so don't eat too much first thing in the morning! Lunch usually ends at around 2.30pm and dinner preparation recommences at around 5.30pm and students remain at Kerrouet House until after dinner around 10.30pm. From what our students say, we don't need to change the routine as it works for them very well. We look forward to welcoming you to Kerrouet House in the not too distant future!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Places to visit

While Kerrouet itself is a tiny hamlet just outside the villages of St Gilles du Mené and St Goueno, we are located directly in the gently rolling countryside of "The Mené"; an area famous throughout Brittany for its unspoilt scenery - a walking and cycling paradise. Here you have a unique time warp where village life goes on much as it did in the middle ages. Villagers attend their fields, their gardens and their animals and little has changed on the surface at least. The roads are quiet and the alluring sounds of wildlife are apparent. Bats, owls and woodpeckers compete for attention and give one an intense feeling of closeness with nature. The gentle sound of church bells can be heard ringing for miles across green fields and hedgerows. A far cry from the traffic and pollution I remember on Gloucester Rd Kensington (London) where I used to live!

So for students who just prefer to go for a walk or a cycle in between cooking, this is a wonderful spot to do so. To unwind. To walk safely. To meet friendly neighbours. Earlier this year, some of our German students were very surprised when an old man they met on the road invited them into his home. He was over 80 years old and lived alone. They were offered home made cider and given a tour of the garden. They came away amazed that people could be so hospitable to complete strangers.

If you wish to explore there are lots of extiting places to visit around us. You could spend a few hours in Dinan or Josselin or St Malo or Lamballe. Here are a few photos to get you in the mood. There is also my favourite place St Cado and of course Vannes, Rennes and Nantes. They all have their unique beauty and charm. You could easily spend all summer long exploring but please remember that cooking starts again at what time was it??!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pheasant in white wine

This is a lovely dish not only because it is simply delicious but also it is so suprisingly easy to prepare. All the prep work is done in advance so you can be free with your dinner guests the moment they arrive!

You will need

1 pheasant oven ready
140g tomato purée
quarter litre white wine
0.45kg charlotte onions
0.25kg of parsnips
0.45kg of carrots
3 x Sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 x Thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 clove garlic (cut up small)


Slice all the vegetables and place in a large casserole dish. Put in the pheasant. Mix together the tomato puree, wine, herbs, garlic salt and pepper.Pour over the pheasant and the vegetables. Cook in a slow oven at 175 degrees, turning and basting the pheasant for 2.30 to 3 hours until tender. Serve direct from the casserole dish to the table.

What our students say about us

Following every cooking course we ask our students how they found our school. Here is a selection of their comments for your information.

"I think the course was excellent you and Poul are fantastic hosts. And the way Poul apparently effortlessly throws together some of the best food I have ever tasted was truly inspiring! The kitchen was pretty much exactly what you would imagine a French kitchen to be and all in with the long languid lunches and dinners. It was exactly the French cooking experience we were hoping for. Please don’t change a thing!!"
Hugh Patience - October 2010

"I thought the selection of recipes was excellent, the main thing for me was, there was a good balance of simple type of recipes which you could easily reproduce on a Saturday afternoon at home and more complicated showing-off type recipes which went with a certain feeling of accomplishment! I thought mixing in a few kitchen skills (de-boning the chicken leg, filleting the skate wing, peeling the artichoke) was a real learning experience for me, and I daresay for others that have attended and will attend the course. Also I thought your flexibility as regards to the recipes was also great, those little parmesan crisps were wonderful and when I had mentioned to Poul that I had made chocolate fondant before, he then went on to change the recipe. Thought these little details (and the hosts!) really made this course stand out from others that I have attended". Kwan Phung - October 2010

"Alex Jones ( presenter BBC The One Show) came away saying how amazing the experience was – praise indeed from a (TV Film) team that are constantly travelling. If only every location was as easy and as nice as you were, we would be very lucky" Emma Davis Flic TV

"I couldn’t believe how warm, welcoming and entertaining Niall and Poul were. I immediately felt at home." Hannah Woolhouse

"The course was perfect for us (good food and wine lovers). We wanted a relaxed and fun environment to learn new things about cuisine." Mandy Dunn

"It was absolutely perfect for what we wanted and suited all our requirements." Heidi Houlihan

"Extremely welcoming, hospitable, approachable and friendly." Lana Hanks-Rossiter

"I feel much more confident to go home and cook these dishes and try new things. I can also adapt the recipes for my children." Georgina Gratten

"I made food that I didn’t know I could make "
Clare McCracken

"I cannot thank you enough for such a fantastic
week. Great food, great learning and great company. Thank you, thank you". Heidi Shenk

"It was an absolute pleasure spending a week at Kerrouet House, thanks for having me, and sharing your stories, recipes, and cooking tips. I will definitely keep in touch and I hope to see you guys again in the not too distant future"!! Jenny Wong

"Being now back in Berlin for almost a week,I can aleady say that I miss Kerrouet! Thank you for a wonderful week, the good instruction, interesting conversation and accommodation!I had a wonderful time, and already I have friends wanting to sign up"! Ellen Brandle

"We had such a lovely time with you at the cookery school in Kerrouet. We couldn't fault it in any way really! Both John and I have been delighting in retelling stories of our holiday- the yummy food, great company, lot of great conversation and laughter! I learned lots and John was so happy cycling by day and eating "the best food he has ever eaten for a full week in a row" with lovely company".
Polly Fitzpatrick

"The best food I have ever tasted"! Joyce Boyle

Friday, 15 October 2010

Rôti de marrons - Roast chestnuts

We all love our chestnuts and our log fires and so when autumn arrives what better activity than to get the neighbours in over a few bottles of cabernet sauvignon and sit around the fire discussing the harvest as you roast the chestnuts in the fireplace.

You will need around a bucket of chestnuts for 8 people

Cut a half-inch gash on flat sides and put in an chestnut pan, allowing one-half teaspoon butter to each cup chestnuts. Shake over fire until butter is melted. Put in the hot ash and let stand five minutes. Remove from fire, and with a small knife take off shells which can be discarded back on the fire!

"At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire".

Charles Dickens — A Christmas Carol

Apple Crunchie Breakfast

Breakfasts can be difficult. We just don't have time to think or prepare the early morning dish and it is a sad fact that most of us including children end up skipping it completely. However we all need sustenance and nourishment following the abstemious rigours of the night. Most of us commuters rely on that coffee purchased in the high street and taken direct to the office. If we are lucky we might also enjoy a muffin of some sort and there are fortunately an increasing variety of tempting snacks available now in our high street outlets. I do enjoy the elderberry muffins at starbucks and where would we be without our espressos, macchiatos,lattes,cappuccinos,caffè mochas and americanos? But if we are trying to eat healthy, take control of what we are consuming and saving money we simply best get organised. One way to do so is to prepare apple crunchie breakfasts for the week ahead and to help yourself to a quick and tasty bite of this delicious dish with your early morning tea or coffee or orange juice.

You will need
0.45kg cooking apples
lemon juice (1 lemon)
56g butter
3 table spoons of honey
2 cups of porridge oats
salt to taste (optional)


Peel and cut up the apples and place them in a pie dish. Sprinkle over the top with the lemon juice. Mix the butter with the honey and oats to make a firm mix. Spread over the apples and bake at 160 degrees (a moderate heat) for 20 minutes. Serve hot with a dallop of creme fraiche or plain yoghurt. Alternatively allow to cool and place upon a chopping board, cut up into slices and use portions as required for a nourishning and tasty meal. The great think about this dish is that the oats are a slow burner and will keep you going all morning!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Autumn Cooking Course 2010

It has been raining since October 1st and so we have started our autumn cooking courses! Students start today and the week of cooking is as follows!


We start at 10am with introductions, course program, safety issues (use of knives etc). We discuss each daily menu before we commence preparation and actual cooking.

Chicken stock making for the week
Starter: Small tomato pizza
Main: Salmon fish cakes on a garden salad with homemade sauce remoulade
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses

Starter: Artichoke in a citrus soup
Main: Langoustine stuffed chicken leg with a basil sauce
Crème fraiche potatoes and rosemary roasted carrots
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Panna Cotta with fresh fruits

Starter: Spiced Pumpkin soup
Main: Turkey breast marinated in soya, ginger and chili
served on wok fried vegetable
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses

Starter: Grilled scallops with endive soup and chives
Main: Roast Duck breast with an apple sauce , orange mash potatoes
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert Lemon Cake with creme fraiche dressing


Starter: Salad with Gizzard and orange
Main: Warm smoked fish on a salad with a chive dressing
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses

Starter: Grilled Langoustines with garlic butter & celery remoulade
Main: “Frikadeller” Danish styled meat balls with potato salad and cucumber salad
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Apple gratin with cinnamon ice cream

Visit to local food market where we will eat as well

Starter: Mushroom risotto
Main: Pan fried skate wing with lemon, capers, parsley & new potatoes
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Poached pear in vanilla with a sabayon sauce and raspberries


Starter: Mussel soup with saffron
Main: Caesar Salad
Cheese: Selection of French cheese

Starter: Lobster bisque
Main: Slow roasted leg of lamb with oven baked vegetables
Cheese: Camembert baked in puff pastry with mustard and dill
Dessert: Tiamisu

Friday, 1 October 2010

Crab Apple, Gin and Rosemary Jelly

Autumn has arrived and the garden is awash with windfall apples. It is time to prepare for those warming winter dishes. Chutneys and jellies reign supreme in a good kitchen larder and there are so many jellies one can prepare with apple. I tried my first classic apple jelly (made with crab apples) when I was 11 years old - in an ancient castle garden (Cabra Castle in Ireland) and the experience has always remained with me. There are numerous delightful combinations including apple & chilly,apple & ginger, apple & clove, apple & cranberry, apple & elderberry, apple & geranium, apple & mint, apple & rosehip but today I will deal with apple & rosemary with a hint of gin which is one of my favourites.

You will need:

2.4 kg crab apples
2.6 Litres water
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 organic lemons (unwaxed)
Sugar (see value below)

Wash and quarter the complete apples (do not peel or core) and place them in a large sauscepan with the water, rosemary and lemon peel. Cook for 30 minutes to reduce to pulp , allow to cool and then place in a jelly bag overnight to strain off the juice. Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g sugar to each 600ml of juice. Warm the sugar in a low oven before adding to juice. Squeeze strain and add the lemon juice to the pan; bring to the boil adding the warm sugar. Stir slowly until the sugar is disolved. Increase the heat for around 8 minutes, skim and test for setting. When ready pot up immediately in sterilised gin glazed glass jars adding a tiny sprig of rosemary in each pot.