Friday, 23 December 2011

Gastronomy of the Basques - Leche Frita

"Bar Asador"

One of the advantages of running a summer cooking school is the opportunity it allows to explore other gastronomic cultures and cuisines when the school is closed for the winter. This November we took off in the car heading south towards the Basque country. From Brittany that is only 8 hours drive or 776k. As usual we took the country roads as we were in no hurry and we enjoy exploring the route just as much as arriving at our destination!

This route took us through some exciting areas including the Loire, Bordeaux, Cognac, La Rochelle, Biarritz and Bayonne. There are lots of wonderful places to explore in all these areas and we could easily have spent a week in any one of them but it was November and we cruised south towards the sun along with our coffee flask and Poul's delicious home smoked ham sandwiches which were prepared earlier in the morning as part of our empty the fridge routine before leaving!

We arrived at St. Sebastian, or Donostia as the city is called by the locals, at 7pm and found no trouble checking into our hotel (Hotel Europa, 52 Calle De San Martin where a charming receptionist called Helen was on hand to look after our every need. Our car was quickly parked up in the car park by the hotel staff and once our bags were safely deposited in our rooms, we were advised of the best places to go for a drink and a meal all within 5 minutes walk from our hotel!

We headed direct to the beach and within minutes found ourselves marveling at a beautiful bay with a grand promenade all lit up by exquisite old street lamps.
In northern cities it is rare to see people out simply walking in the evening! Fear of crime, cold, noise or just lack of walking space are all to blame. However in Donostia, it seemed everyone, babies, young couples,singles, groups, older couples , grandparents and great grandparents were all out walking and talking along the seaside and enjoying their evening stroll. The sound of the waves could be heard crashing in on the shore which added to the magical scene. It was hard to believe we were in a city of almost 200,000 people given the sheer splendor and size of the bay. It was not until daybreak however that the extraordinary beauty of the natural cove really became apparent.I was minded of Sydney Harbour.

In fact Donostia far surpasses Sydney with its natural beauty and historical and architectural heritage. Just climb up the old castle fortress which overlooks the city and bay to see without doubt one of the best views in the world! It's no surprise the Basques have always called this place their spiritual home! They were here well before the Spanish and Catalans came to Spain and well before the French came to France!They have no intention of leaving! The place is a bustling economic and cultural success with enormous civic pride. The city is clean and without graffiti which adorns the walls of most European cities. The success is apparent in the streets where ordinary citizens appear well heeled, the shops and restaurants are busy and most of all in the sophistication and confidence of its renowned gastronomic culture. Walk into any bar like "Bar Asador" as we did and see for yourself. Prepare to be very impressed.

The Basque word for tapas is pintxos and it is generally accepted that the Basques have the upper hand when it comes to Spanish culinary matters. The sheer variety of dishes is amazing and we spent most days and evenings trying out various mouth watering samples of delightful combinations ranging from simple open sandwiches of serrano hams, wild mushrooms, numerous pepper dishes, manchego cheeses, hot seafood and fish dishes prepared on request. We tried eels with red peppers, green peppers with anchovies and an unusual dish of fried milk called Leche Frita which is so delicious and unknown generally we just had to photograph it and research the recipe which is given below:

To make Leche Frita you will need for 4-6 people:

6 eggs
60 gr. cornstarch
60 gr. flour
120 gr. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 / 2 l. milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100 gr. icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 knob of butter


Put milk in a saucepan to boil.In another saucepan, put the beaten eggs, sugar and vanilla. Then add the flour and cornstarch in saucepan second and stir until well blended. Then add the milk bring slowly to boil, stirring constantly, cook for five minutes. The cream should be very thick, if not, add more cornstarch, diluted in milk and added gradually until it reaches the proper thickness.

Pass the cream through a strainer to keep large lumps from forming.

Put a frying pan on heat with enough oil.

The portions are passed in flour and egg, are coated well on both sides and fry in the pan.

When browned, served in a source sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

For effect why not add a good liquor and serve as flambé.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Traditional Christmas Pudding

It's not a very well know fact that King George 1 of Great Britain and Ireland was known as "The Pudding King"! At precisely six o'clock on December 25th 1714, his first Christmas in England, he sat down to a pudding made with the following ingredients!

For 3 puddings

680g finely shredded suet
453g eggs weighed in their shells
453g each of dried plums, stoned and halved; mixed peel, cut in long strips; small raisins, sultanas, currants, sifted flour;sugar and brown crumbs
1 tsp mixed spice
Half nutmeg grated
2 tsp salt
0.28 litres new fresh milk
Juice of 1 lemon
Large glass of brandy


Mix all the dry ingredients, moisten with eggs, beaten to a froth; add the milk, lemon juice and brandy Stand for at least 12 hours in a cool place. Turn into buttered moulds. Boil for 8 hours at first then for 2 hours before serving. I understand that King George enjoyed this pudding so much he insisted it was made for every Chriatmas and so became a culinary tradition at Sandringham!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Salmon & Scallops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This is a very simple dish to prepare and surprisingly good with the lime juice infusion on top of the roasted sliced potatoes.

Serves 2. Preparation time 25 minutes.

1 large sweet potato (¾ lb), peeled and sliced
crosswise ½ inch thick
6 oz salmon fillet skinned
6 oz sea scallops
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice,
2/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
½ cup fresh cream or crème fraiche
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander


Place a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Arrange sweet potato slices in 1 layer on hot baking sheet and roast until tender and lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Divide between 2 plates and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.
While potato roasts, cut salmon and scallops into ¾-inch pieces, toss with 1 Tbsp lime juice and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook onion in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add celery and chilli and cook, stirring occasionally, until celery just begins to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add cream and bring just to the boil, then add seafood (with juice) and simmer until just cooked through and cream is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp lime juice and ¼ tsp salt.

Place the salmon and scallops on top of the roasted potato slices. Sprinkle with coriander and serve immediately with a nice crisp glass of white wine.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Oysters, Scallops, Coet de Boeuf and Rugby

The world rugby final between France and New Zealand yesterday allowed us the unique opportunity to enjoy the game with our French friends, Fabrice , Nelly, Bruno and Philip. The exclusive and rather secret private members bar in Yffiniac was open early that day (well 10am on Sunday morning is rather early for me) and so we kicked off with a very enjoyable black coffee expresso just as the game commenced! Within minutes the All Blacks were in the lead. I assumed the French would be thrashed by New Zealand as everyone had been saying it was luck that had got them to the final (Wales should have been there instead)! I must confess to being very impressed with the way France managed to control and continually push the All Blacks right through to the end of the game. Yes the All Blacks won but it was a very close call and France came very near to running away with the tiny Webb Ellis trophy cup!

There was nothing small about the oysters we enjoyed at half time! In fact they were the largest oysters I have ever eaten! Fabrice had purchased them earlier that morning. They were Paimpol oysters from further up along the west Brittany coast. The oysters were served with bread and butter and a classic cool Muscadet wine. All absolutely delicious. What a civilised way to enjoy a game of rugby I thought!

The game may have ended but the gourmet meal was just beginning. A bbq (still possible in Brittany in October) was quickly set up as we enjoyed a tasty Jura whiskey. I learned a wonderful trick for getting the BBQ alight. No need to mess about with fire lighters or nasty chemicals. Just place some paper inside the charcoal, pour some sunflower oil over the paper and light with a match. Voila a bbq is quickly alight and hardly any smoke either. So simple I wondered why I had never thought of doing it myself!

We were called to the table where a nice bottle of Rully awaited us along with a dish which is very popular in Brittany. Coquilles St-Jacques à la nage.

I just love scallops but had never had Coquilles St-Jacques à la nage before! The scallops were served swimming in a delicious creamy soup the recipe of which is given below. It was marvellously impressive; the texture of the scallops were just right firm with a powerful bite combined with the mouth watering sea tangy taste of the soup.

The cote de boeuf was initially grilled first for a few minutes on all sides to seal in the juices and then placed upon the bbq where it sat until it was done.

We like our beef on the bleu side and it was set aside to rest for five minutes before being carved and brought to the table. The beef was served with a delicious golden potato gratin and a classic French mustard. A slight sprinkle of sea salt from Guerande was the only touch required to make this a perfect dish for a Sunday Roast Rugby World Cup Special!

Anyone who knows Fabrice will know he takes his wine very seriously. We were served a delicious Santenay 1er Cru 2000 with the Cote de boeuf followed by a rare bottle of Saint Sardos (Pech de Boisgrand) 1995 with the cheese board. We finished with a delicious light chocolate mouse accompanied with a home made apple crumble, light too with a lovely crisp edge and not too sweet.

Coffee with vintage armagnac completed our meal and with the sun still shining we decided it was time to take a stroll and walk off some of those calories - how nice to be beside the seaside and so off we went along the old railway line which is now appropriately called Promenade Harel de la Noë after the engineer who designed all the bridges along the route.

Recipe pour Coquilles St-Jacques à la nage:

2,5 kg de coquilles Saint-Jacques entières (soit 600 g sans les coquilles)
2 citrons
1 orange
1 branche d'estragon
bouquet garni
1 tête d'ail
300 g de blancs de poireau coupés en petits tronçons
250 g de carottes coupées en fines rondelles
1,5 litre d'eau
sel et poivre en grains
poivre de cayenne

Résumé :
Une part de cette recette apporte : 167 kcal, 25 g de protéines, 1 g de lipides, 13.5 g de glucides, 2.5 mg de fer.
pour Coquilles St-Jacques à la nage

Ouvrir les coquilles, détachez la chair et lavez les noix à l'eau courante. Séparez les blancs et les coraux des barbes qui les entourent.

Préparez un bouillon de légumes :

Mettez les barbes dans une casserole avec 1 litre d'eau et le jus d'1 demi citron. Faites bouillir 10 min et filtrez le jus.

Remettez-le dans une casserole et ajoutez les morceaux de poireaux, de carottes, 2 à 3 rondelles de citron, 2 à 3 rondelles d'orange, les grains de poivre, le poivre de Cayenne, le sel, l'estragon, le bouquet garni et la tête d'ail entière. Laissez frémir à couvert pendant 25 min.

Faites pocher dans ce bouillon les noix de St-Jacques, 10 min avant de servir. Otez du bouillon la branche d'estragon, le bouquet garni et la tête d'ail. Servez les coquilles très chaudes, dans la nage avec les légumes.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Chasing Hares and Medieval Ovens

Brittany is full of little secrets just waiting to be explored. It is easy to drive through these tiny villages and miss the historical gems right there on your doorstep. I know the beautiful 8th century church (of St Gall) at Langast (my brother got married there and my dad played the organ). It is the third oldest church in France and well worth a visit. Go in the morning and enjoy a very reasonable priced lunch in the adjacent restaurant belonging to Yann (how can he do a three course lunch for 11 euros?!). Then continue your journey along the pleasant route of the D76 in the direction of Plouguenast (incidentially the first town in France to be lit by electricity!), you will pass the little village of Le Vieux Bourg. By all means enjoy the unusual and revamped 12th century church right in the centre of the village but don't forget to seek out the medieval stone oven just opposite.

If you are lucky like we were yesterday, you will see this oven in use and I can verify the bread is absolutely as real bread should be - with just the right texture, the taste, the smell is just wonderful. You can eat this bread alone nothing else is required! The flour is milled by millstone and is so different to the touch. To find the watermill which is still in use today, simply follow the route of the hares! You will need some knowledge of the local dialect, Gallo, which is still spoken around here to ascertain which road to take off the D76. So drive slowly as you leave Le Vieux Bourg and watch out for the signs to Goutte es Lievre literally meaning "hare sighting place" and follow the lovely road down to the river and the 13th century moulin which still has a working watermill.

What is more you can in this place at the right time actually take part in original communal bread making exercises! Yes large troughs of flour and water are kneaded into dough by numerous busy hands some tiny and some not so little but all relishing these ancient practices and singing the traditional songs which go along so well with such life enforcing embraces.

So thank you Jean Paul and Theo for some lovely loaves and a wonderful insight into bread making in ancient Brittany. If you would like to get involved in making your own bread in the traditional manner you can find more info from Jean Paul on Tel 0671619655 or email

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Beef Wellington

One of the last cooking classes this year saw us cook a Beef Wellington dish otherwise known here in France as Boeuf en Croute. It is rare to see this 1960's dish served in restaurants today which is surprising given how delicious it is. It was a nice main dish to complete a full week of cooking and all our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the process. People assume Beef Wellington is an English dish but apparently it has more to do with New Zealand than the UK having been developed there in 1966!

Here is the recipe:

1 Kg of beef tenderloin
1/2 Kg of puff pastry
1/2 Kg of mushrooms
Mustard- in France Dijon in Uk English Mustard
12 slices of Prosciutto
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Eggs

Your beef tenderloin should be of the same thickness as your dish; season it with salt and pepper and seal it on a hot pan in olive oil. Brush it with mustard and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Blend the mushroom in a food processor and then season and fry on a hot pan to remove water content.
Take cling film and open out on table. Line the base of the cling film with slices of parma ham and add the
mushrooms on top. Add the beef in the middle and roll all up and place in fridge for 20 minutes.
Prepare the puff pastry by rolling it out on floured surface and brush with two eggs whisked previously.
Take your beef from the fridge and remove cling film. Place beef on top of puff pastry and roll up and seal it
with the egg mix. Brush again with remaining egg and bake in oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with port wine sauce and seasonal vegetables.

Serve with a nice full bodied red wine.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Modern European Cuisine

One is often asked what the definition of modern european cusine is. This is not surprising with the pace of change in the gastronomic world and the move from formal to informal dining and local sourcing of food products. The fundamental essence of Modern European cooking is really more about themes and associations than with hard and fast rules.
Europe forms one of the greatest culinary canvases in the world, so Modern European cuisine is one that experiments with techniques and ideas from many different countries. Unsurprisingly it is therefore very tempting.
Whilst traditionally chefs would be affiliated with one particular style of cooking and stick to it, Modern European food has seen a marked shift towards a more relaxed and less specific attitude to ingredient selection and preparation.
The adoption of Mediterranean style cooking, involving lots of grilling, roasting, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs is probably the most obvious characteristic of Modern European food. However, any attempt to define it further will always be met with exceptions such is the fluidity of Modern European cuisine.
Classic examples of Modern European food include bread and butter pudding made from panettone, gravadlax and potato roast, chicken liver mousse with red onion marmalade and wild mushroom tempura.
These dishes illustrate that by experimenting and mixing different styles of cooking from different countries a new and worthy cuisine is created.

Grilled Venison with Figs and Pears

As the evenings draw in and the temperature drops there is a natural tendency to look at those dishes which warm the hearth of the kitchen as well as the cockles of the heart. Here is a dish which does both and with pears and figs in season there is no better time to do so!

To serve 6 you will need:

900g venison from the leg or 6 venison fillets 150g each
3 onions chopped
a little olive oil
6 fresh or dried figs (diced and peeled)
3 large pears, (peeled,seeded and finely diced)
1 dl balsamic vinegar
3 dl red wine
salt & pepper
For the sauce:
1 dl balsamic vinegar
1.5dl Crème de Mure (Blackberry)

Sauté the onions in oil for 3 minutes then adding figs and pears for 3 minutes more. Add the vinegar and reduce completely. Add red wine and reduce again completely. Season with salt and pepper.
For the sauce simply boil balsamic vinegar and crème de mure to a syrup. Keep warm.
Turn the venison in a little olive oil and season. Fry briefly on a very hot frying pan. Arrange on hot plates with the onion and fruit serving the warm sauce on top.

A good strong red wine goes well with this dish particularly my favourite Brunello di Montalcino.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Paris pour la weekend?

One of the nice things about living in France is Paris! I think it has to be the most beautiful city in Europe (outside Scandanavia - I love Copenhagen and Stockholm too!). However it can be diffcult in Paris to find that unique place to stay or that special restaurant so thank you Alison Culliford (Time Out Paris) for the following recommendations:

Hôtel de Nesle, 6th

The Nesle isn't new but it is one of the best-kept secrets in Paris; near the Louvre, it is surprisingly affordable. Expect it to be wacky, from the Aladdin's cave-style reception to the 20 fresco-decorated rooms.
Details Singles from E41, doubles E56 (0033 1 43 54 62 41, Métro Odeon

Oops! Hostal, 7th
Yes, it's a hostel but it looks more like a smart design hotel. There is free internet inside and a Vélib bicycle station next door.
Details From E45 including breakfast (0033 1 47 07 47 00, Métro Gobelins

Source Hôtel, 17th
Within spitting distance of Montmartre, Sacré Coeur and the flea market, the decor is contemporary and functional without being cheerless.
Details Doubles from E75 (0033 1 46 27 73 67, Métro Porte de Saint-Ouen

Saint-Jacques, 5th
This little gem in the Latin Quarter is like staying in a gorgeous 19th-century boudoir. The rooms are sumptuous, and there's also an elegant lounge and bar area. It has great deals if you book for two nights or longer.
Details Doubles from E93 if you stay three nights (0033 1 44 07 45 45, Métro Maubert-Mutualité


The "village" of Butte-aux-Cailles is home to many foodies and L'Avant-Goût remains top of their lists, with the convivial atmosphere that goes with its rustic food. Try the pot au feu de cochon aux épices - suckling pig hotpot - served with a separate glass of cooking juices.

Details 26 Rue Bobillot (0033 1 53 80 24 00, Lunch menu E11, dinner E24


A band of five "mothers' boys" has created a restaurant evoking their mama’s home cooking - even the mums get into the kitchen once a month to turn out blanquette de veau, chicken cordon bleu and Nutella-flavoured puddings.
Details 7 Bis Rue Geoffroy-Marie (0033 1 48 24 59 39, Lunch menu E13, à la carte E26
The undisputed HQ of Paris's modern-day bohemians, this was the inspiration for a Thirties cult film long before it was a restaurant. The food is a long time coming, but worth the wait: try the salade croquante Chinoise, far tastier than it sounds.
Details 102 Quai de Jemmapes (0033 1 40 40 78 78, Lunch menu E11, à la carte E26 - E34.

If gastro-tourists are flocking to L'Agrume for its fame in the blogosphere, Latin Quarter locals who can't get a table consistently recommend Le Jardin des Pâtes. Five different pastas are home-made from organic ingredients - wheat, rye, rice, buckwheat and chestnut - and accompanied by sauces more Gallic than Italian, such as chicken liver with prunes.
Details 4 Rue LacépÈde (0033 1 43 31 50 71). Main courses E8-E11

A world away from the tourist traps of Sacré-Coeur, this little bistro-à-vins "behind the Butte" has not changed for decades - since the photographer Robert Doisneau used to come here. The menu features dishes that have disappeared from many Parisian menus, such as tête de veau gribiche (braised calf's head) and petit salé aux lentilles (salted pork with lentils).
Details 27 Rue Lambert (0033 1 46 06 15 11). Main courses E8-E11
In the expensive Odéon quartier, shop assistants, students and medical faculty workers cram into this tiny Austrian café. You will probably have to share a table, but that's all part of the fun, as are the marvellous sweet treats such as poppyseed cake, cheesecake or sachertorte.
Details 8 Rue de l'École de Médicine (0033 1 43 26 60 48). Main courses E5-E8. Cakes E2.50


Unlike some of its neighbours, Le Select has not sold its soul but rejoices in a cast of habitués that are as much a fixture as the Art-Deco lights. The brasserie food is predictable, but honest: steak Béarnaise, sole meuniÈre, and croque-monsieurs at any time of day.

Details 99 Boulevard du Montparnesse (0033 1 45 48 38 24). Lunch menu E11; dinner from E21.50


This one is recommended not only for the beauty of its zinc bar and La Victoria espresso machine that steams above the chatter of local designers, photographers and film-makers, but also for the warm welcome and wonderful food.
Details 1 Rue Antoine-Vollon (0033 1 43 43 06 00, square-trousseau. com). À la carte E30


Marilyn Monroe and fake leopard skin are the overwhelming theme of the décor, with the Corsican family that runs it also dressed to match. But the point of coming here is the succulent steaks - the pavé de boeuf (beef fillet) with onion confit is one of the best in Paris.

Details 87 Rue de Turbigo (0033 1 42 72 30 76). Lunch menu E11, à la carte E26-E30

"Troquet" means a small neighbourhood café, and the owners have succeeded in creating just that ambiance, with high-quality bistro fare where the emphasis is on hand-picked ingredients such as Mauléon lamb, Ibaïona ham, asparagus and truffles from the Vaucluse.

Details 21 Rue François-Bonvin (0033 1 45 66 89 00). Lunch menu E21, dinner E31

Always ring/email to confirm hotel prices before booking accommodation.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Apple Chutney

Chutneys are a wonderful way of using up autumn fruits. The principle ingredient can be apples, beetroot or tomatoes but we also make walnut chutney too which is great with cheese. Brittany, the UK and Ireland have just had a wonderful apple harvest so this is a good time to start making apple chutney. You can't make too much chutney as it keeps well and makes great gifts for Christmas!! For a typical simple apple chutney you will need

1 kilo of apples
500g of brown sugar
500ml of water
750ml of vinegar.
3 onions
3 sprigs of cloves
1 whole ginger peeled and finely cut
50g raisons
peel from 1 organic orange and lemon
salt & pepper

To start, peel, core and chop the apples and put them in a large saucepan with the water. Add chopped onions, raisins, ginger, cloves, orange/lemon peel and sugar and simmer until soft. Add seasoning and vinegar and simmer slowly, uncovered, until thick. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from burning. Pour into warmed jars and cover at once.

Keep in a dark cool place until ready to use.

Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Peas

This is a quick dinner dish (for that lazy day) which is relatively easy to make, will be a hit with the whole family and combines all those essential nutrients needed for good health.


500g Fresh spinach

5 tbsp pesto

Juice of one lemon

2 tbsps mayonnaise

Approximately 50ml olive oil

Salt and pepper

500g dried wholewheat pasta

250g peas

Handful pine nuts

Wash the spinach and drain well in a colander. Squeeze out excess moisture. Mix it in a food processor along with the pesto, lemon juice, mayonnaise and a splash of olive oil. You can also add some raw garlic. Set the sauce aside until the pasta is ready.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water for the time recommended on the pack and then drain it. Give it a very brief rinse with some cold water, but don’t let it get too chilly. Put it back in the hot saucepan, add the olive oil and peas and the residual heat will thaw them enough to cook them. Season well. Mix in the pesto sauce and adjust the seasoning.

Lightly toast the pine nuts in an oven at about 160 degrees until they take on a rich golden colour and sprinkle them on top for extra crunch. Serve.

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Good Read - The Kitchen Library

Here are a number of good cookbooks which were recommended recently in the press:

Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers
Produced by the team behind one of New York's most renowned vegetarian restaurants, this useful tome boasts "no enticing pictures, just 175 easy recipes that taste so good, meat eaters might well be converted", says Keith Aris. Don't be put off by the use of American-style "cup" measurements, he adds. "Just enjoy the proven reliability of these recipes."
Clarkson Potter - £19.99

Flavours of Morocco by Ghillie Basan
According to Keith, Basan's compendium of North African dishes is "a beautiful book from an experienced writer who, as with her Middle Eastern books, creates flavoursome recipes set in their social context". From excellent, spicy tagines to inventive variations on couscous and much, much more, this is sure to "provoke holiday memories," he adds.
Ryland, Peters & Small - £19.99

My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell
The latest book from the head chef at Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond. This one puts individual ingredients as the star players, wrapping a collection of sure-to-impress recipes (from blood oranges with warm honey and rosemary to grilled partridge with chilli, marjoram and ricotta) around groups of seasonal produce. Gorgeous photography by Jason Lowe and a clear layout make it easy to use, too.
Quadrille - £25

Chocolate by Trish Deseine

Alice Hart turns to this book whenever she needs "a killer recipe for a dinner with friends". From classic brownies, mousses and cakes to more adventurous truffles, Easter eggs and cocktails, it's all here. There's even a section on "chocotherapy", whatever that is. "There are some great tips on working with chocolate scattered throughout the book and the chocolate granola is a dream," promises Alice.
Hachette - £12.99

Essence: Recipes from le Champignon Sauvage by David Everitt-Matthias
Double Michelin-starred chefs might be forgiven for writing books beyond the average home cook, but Everitt-Matthias falls into no such trap, says Keith. "Offering exquisite variations on classical recipes - such as roasted rib eye of black Angus beef with braised lettuce and winkles - all are clearly described with helpful advice for both the amateur cook and professional chef. David makes it all seem so simple. You know it isn't, but this very reasonably priced book generates confidence."
Absolute Press - £25

Riverford Farm Cookbook by Guy Watson and Jane Baxter
This brand-new book promises "a sensible look at simple meals using British vegetables, in tasty seasonal recipes - many with international influences", advises Keith. "Beetroot and blackcurrant relish may not be an obvious combination, but it is superb with duck and game. Celeriac and cabbage will never be mundane again!" Fourth Estate - £16.99

The New Art of Japanese Cooking by Masaharu Morimoto
The latest venture from Masaharu Morimoto, the former Japanese baseball-player turned- chef. This book is "sheer gastro porn" according to Keith. "Fantastic photography highlights innovative healthy recipes and, while luxurious pouches of Caviar tempura may stretch some pockets, everyone can stun their guests with "frozen lettuce" - an original take on a Caesar salad." Dorling Kindersley - £25

Great French Chefs (and their recipes) by Jean Louis Andre
This book promises "pure photographic decadence and a great insight into the traditions - and recipes - of 14 of the best French chefs", says Tom Lewis. One to get your creativity flowing, it offers a whistle stop tour through French cuisine, with advice from renowned culinary masters as well as up-and-coming names, and an insight into the varied gastronomic character of each region of the country. out of print - from £12.49 online

The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr

Not just a book of nutritious, family-friendly meals, what puts this book above its competitors is the way it's been designed to be used by the whole family to make cooking fun. So, while there are plenty of recipes for spaghetti carbonara and homemade burgers, there are also food "projects" such as making your own butter, growing potatoes or tossing pancakes.
Hodder & Stoughton - £20

French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David
"Nearly 50 years after it was first written this classic, which introduced us to 'la cuisine terroir' - what grows together goes together - is still the first book many consult for French classic dishes," says Keith. "Even if you aren?t tempted to cook any of the dishes described in it, the book is so well written that you cannot fail to be impressed by the variety in French regional cuisine," he adds. Penguin - £8.99

The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas
"Bacon is a standard choice for many a simple supper, but there is nothing standard aboutVillas's book," states Keith. "The irresistible smell of bacon oozes from the pages, as Villas shows the versatility of bacon, even bacon desserts - for example, bacon and peanut butter chocolate truffles. Vegetarians beware; these dishes could prove too tempting."
John Wiley & Sons - £18.99

Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible
"Jaffrey's recipes celebrate the Indian diaspora and its rich culinary heritage. Dishes are as diverse as they are delicious and include western interpretations on Indian food, fish curries from Thailand, fiery Trinadadian flash fries and curried Burmese soup," says Roopa Gulati. "It was here that I first learnt the ropes of cookingSouth African masalas for my Durbanborn husband. Even his mum approves of Jaffrey's boldly spiced biryani, crammed with meaty morsels, veggies, and perky chillies." Ebury - £25

Decadence By Philip Johnson
In spite of the title, this book has a good range of desserts from the simple weekday pud to the exotic entertaining masterpiece, according to Keith. "Philip Johnson may be one of Australia?s most acclaimed chefs, but the peach and white chocolate bread and butter pudding takes this British classic to another level," he says. Murdoch Books - £14.99

The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys by Marguerite Patten
Written by one of TV's first celebrity chefs, if you're not sure what to do with a glut of tomatoes or blackcurrants, this no-nonsense guide to jams and pickles will point the way. "Forget those over-sweet, mass-produced jams and chutneys," says Keith. "For over a decade amateur cooks have been benefiting from this very usable tome. Most recipes have variations on the mother recipe and Ms Patten's basic apple jelly easily becomes elderberry, elderflower, geranium or even cranberry." rub Street - £7.99

The Ultimate Recipe Book by Angela Nilsen
"Meticulous in her research, Nilsen takes 50 much-loved dishes and dedicates herself to honing each recipe to foolproof perfection," sums upRoopa. "From summer pudding to Thai green chicken curry, scrambled eggs to chocolate cake, no stone is left unturned in her quest to discover ultimate recipes and the result is a creative collection of trustworthy recipes, which also makes for an entertaining and informative read."
BBC Books - £16.99

Home Cook by Alastair Hendy
"Hendy's recipes are a nostalgic tribute to our past - the succulent roasts, proper puds, and Anglo-Italian pasta dishes a throwback to the 1970s," says Roopa. "Tastefully updated with stir-fries and noodles, this is a book that seamlessly combines homespun British flavours with street food from South East Asia. I love it for its comfort factor, and his marvellous meals don't call for a degree in butchery or ace filleting skills." Headline - £25

Maze: the Cookbook by Jason Atherton
"I love this book to distraction," says Roopa. "Everything about it stands out - Atherton's precisely written recipes, openness to share kitchen secrets and flair for playing with global flavours all impress. Then there's Ditte Isager's cutting-edge food photography. Once every few Saturdays, I'll put everything on hold and cook for the pleasure of selfish indulgence. I'm a kitchen anorak and will sieve the mashed potatoes three times over, use crab shells for making stock and whip up pistachio sabayon." Quadrille - £25

Terrine by Stephane Reynaud
Reynaud "conjures up tasty new twists on old classics in the first good terrine book for some time", acknowledges Keith. "The recipes remind us how easy this technique can be. Most people don't automatically think of terrines as desserts but a chocolate and raspberry terrine can be spectacular." Kate Colquhoun also recommends Pork &Sons by the same author (Phaidon, £24.95). "Pork is sadly underrated and this book gorges on it. Reynaud's stuffed cabbage embodies Gallic sophistication." Phaidon - £16.95

Fresh by Mitchell Tonks
“Mitch Tonks loves to keep dishes simple and his straightforward approach to cooking is a world away from the arty flourishes of haute cuisine," says Roopa. "Sometimes I'll pick up a selection of shellfish after work and follow his genius recipe for cooking everything with a bundle of bucatini and herby tomato sauce. The whole caboodle is baked in foil and, when opened at the table, it unleashes a deliciously fragrant puff of steam, the closest I've come to Mediterranean sunshine food this year." Michael Joseph - £20

Modern Mezze by Anissa Helou
"Fresh and aromatic, with clear, precise and completely delicious recipes", this collection of 100 dishes from Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Morocco and Iran "makes you feel healthy just by reading it", says Kate. From delicious dips and herby salads to crisp pastries, piquant pulse and grain dishes, fragrant vegetables and tender meat, if you like Middle Eastern food but don't know where to start, this is an excellent place.
Quadrille - £12.99

Sauces: Sweet and Savoury Classic and New by Michel Roux
"A good sauce can make or break any dish, so this book is an essential in any cookery book collection," advises Keith. "Classic oils, coulis, vinaigrettes and sauces are all explained clearly," he adds. Better still, preparation times for the books recipes are often about five minutes so you can ditch those "packets of chemical- laden sauces and recreate these tasty healthy sauces - they always impress." Quadrille - £9.99

Larousse Gastronomique
This cookery encyclopaedia "is the ultimate chef's bible" promises Tom. Organised alphabetically, it guides you through everything from ingredients and cooking styles to wineproducing regions and even gives a handy rundown on using appliances. Though it does contain recipes, Larousse is perhaps most useful as a reference manual for when you're using another book and get stumped half way though a recipe. Look up whatever's holding you back in here and you should be on your way again. Hamlyn - £60

Formulas For Flavour by John Campbell
"When I returned to Britain in 2001, after living abroad for almost two decades, this book was one of the first to inspire and bring me up to date with new-wave cooking styles," says Roopa. "Even today, every time I open his book I come across an idea that makes me want to throw on my pinny. From parsnip ices to courgette flowers filled with fennel cream and perfectly proportioned savoury mousses and stuffings, these recipes are challenging, but, if you've got the time, immensely rewarding." Conran Octopus - £20

The River Cottage Fish Book by Nick Fisher
With the aptly named Nick Fisher as co author, you'd expect this book to know its stuff and it doesn't disappoint. According to Tom, this is "a great big book with lots of simple fish recipes", many of which are designed around more unusual British species rather than just sticking to the usual suspects. "It's packed with information and it reminds you that cooking is fun."
Bloomsbury - £30

A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

This updated version of Claudia Roden's classic book is "the culinary Bible for middle eastern food", states Kate. "Aromatic cookery with a strong sense of purpose, and of belonging", the recipes are easy to follow, the writing characterful and the results - both with everyday meals and special occasion spreads - completely winning. Penguin - £18.99

Grand Livre de Cuisine: Desserts and Pastries by Alain Ducasse
"This is the Rolls-Royce of dessert books," says Keith. Written by the triple-Michele in-starred chef, "many of these desserts are spectacular in their depth of flavour and simplicity of presentation. This is not a book for everyday use, or the amateur cook, but a book to own, if you can". Roopa agrees, adding that "this weighty doorstopper panders to my love of all things sweet and is an investment that feeds my weekend hobby. Ducasse is a master and this book puts his artistry centre stage." Alain Ducasse - £110

The Essentials of Classic Italian cooking by Marcella Hazan

"This has yet to be bettered," promises Kate of this no-frills foodie favourite (don't expect glossy photos). "My copy is splattered with gnocchi, tomato sauce, gravy and oil, but I wouldn't replace it for the world. It does what it says on the tin, and more." out of print - from £16.25 online

Cook Simple by Diana Henry
Almost every recipe in this book slightly realigns the expected and cries out to be made, according to Kate.It takes basic store-cupboard ingredients and turns them into such delights as hot and sweet roast Mediterranean vegetables with Tahini dressing or baked lime and passion-fruit pudding. "It also looks wonderful," she adds. Alice blames Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons by the same author for fuelling her love of Middle-Eastern cuisine. Mitchell Beazley - £20

Exploring Taste and Flavour by Tom Kime
This collection of 150 recipes is based on the principles of the south-east Asian taste theory, combining the four main tastes of hot, sour, salty and sweet. It’s also seriously underrated, according to Alice. "The flavour combinations are fabulous and vegetables are given the platform they deserve. I particularly love the northern Indian smoky spiced aubergine and the geng gari curry". Kyle Cathie - £14.99

Gordon Ramsay's Just Desserts
"As far as desserts go, this is one of my much loved books," says Roopa. "You can tell it's my favourite because most pages are smudged with a memento - a buttery fingerprint here, a streak of raspberry sauce there. Our popular family choices include whirls of crisp meringue piled with passion fruit cream, bread and butter pudding laced with Baileys cream liqueur and a deliciously wobbly orange panna cotta. Surprisingly simple to put together, these recipes taste much like they might in a restaurant." Kelkoo £17.84

The Silver Spoon
"The definitive guide to Italian cookery for the past 50 years, this is packed with over 2,000 recipes and is brutal in its simplicity and honesty," says Tom. Originally published in Italy in 1950, this classic wedding-present fodder - updated for contemporary audiences and translated into English - sets out the skills of various experts in a form designed to be easily digested by a wider audience. Phaidon - £24.99

The French Laundry Cook Book by Thomas Keller
"This was a revolutionary book when it came out and is still a real kitchen favourite at my hotel," says Tom. "Everyone is always trying to borrow it!" And no wonder. Thomas Keller is the chef-owner of the French Laundry restaurant in California, perenially rated the best in the world by Restaurant magazine, and according to Tom, "one of the most influential chefs of our time". Workman - £40

Made in Italy: Food and Stories by Giorgio Locatelli
This book enjoys a permanent position on Alice's bedside table "but occasionally gets dragged downstairs when the pasta machine gets dusted off", she admits. Packed with explanations and descriptions about ingredients and styles as well as recipes (which often include several variations on a theme), Locatelli's laid-back style means the recipes aren't too intimidating for amateurs to follow. Fourth Estate - £19.99

Crust: Bread to Get Your Teeth Into by Richard Bertinet

"We bought a bakery a year ago and this is one of the books I bought to find out more about baking artisan-style breads," says Tom. Full of clear, practical advice and packed with photographs, whether you want to tackle a basic sourdough, try your hand at producing bread made with spelt or experiment with bagels, pretzels and brioche, this is "accessible and easy to follow for amateur bakers". Kyle Cathie - £19.99

Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

"Predictable to include a Jamie book, I know, but the recipes are consistently delicious," says Alice. "This is the food I want to eat with family and friends," she adds, of the book's no-messing style and rich flavours. Inspired by the vegetables growing in Jamie's garden each season, it gives some basic planting information alongside recipes for such delights as "cheeky chilli-pepper chutney". Michael Joseph - £25

Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook

Kate's favourite cookbook of 2007, this rallying call for the field-to-plate philosophy "deserves to become a classic", she says. "Beautiful to look at and encyclopaedic in its range, it reaffirms the ancient connection between the garden and the kitchen," she adds. Bloomsbury - £30

Amuse-Bouche by Rick Tramonto

If you're looking for ideas for original and exciting starters and accompaniments, go no further than this book, suggests Tom. Subtitled Little Bites of Delight Before the Meal Begins, it focuses on seriously sophisticated dishes (anyone for a lobster club sandwich with vanilla aioli, or figs with mascarpone foam and prosciutto di Parma?), but serves them up in bite-sized portions. Random House - £18

Nico by Nico Ladenis

"Nico Ladenis is one of the chefs who first inspired me to start cooking, after I heard him interviewed on Desert Island Discs," remembers Tom. His book condenses the author's experience into a series of straightforward recipes, offering an insight into Ladenis's culinary philosophy. It's often said, for example, that the controversial chef refused to cook steak medium or well done, whatever the customer's preference. - from £35 online

Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater

Alice recommends anything by Nigel Slater "to soothe and comfort". And, while not the most recent of Slater's books, Real Fast Food is a classic, packed with quick, no-nonsense recipes for satisfying food. With its evocative prose and enthusiastic style, this will help you transform store cupboard ingredients into something sublime with the minimum of effort. Just beware of its brazen use of oil, butter and cream. Penguin - £8.99

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Carbon Footprint

Every organisation and indeed every home dweller should be thinking of how they can reduce their carbon footprint and French Dining School is no exception. This is now so important if we are to save our world from the horror of global warming.

It will be the millions of small consumers and producers who will make the difference to whether our world will be a safe place for future generations.
We are just passing through but as we pass we each have a responsibility to ensure we try to make this beautiful precious world of ours a better place for our childrens' children to live in.

What practical things can we do?

*Buy your food products locally.
*Grow as much as you can in your own garden.
*Share projects with neighbours and work co-operatively
*Recycle water
*Recycle your organic rubbish
*Reduce consumption on petrol (save on mileage by getting a nano smart fluid -Nanoland Global)
*Share transport with neighbours and plan journeys to economise on fuel
*Recycle your recipes and cookbooks
*Buy only what you need and endeavour to use all foodstuffs with a variety of dishes on the menu.
*Optimise your oven use by baking double portions.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Oysters and Cabbage

I love oysters and cabbage! There was a time when both ingredients were looked down upon and even today the poor cabbage is often neglected despite its valuable nutrients and versatility. This has probably a lot to do with school dinners and the fact that most people don't know how to cook cabbage properly or even worse, overcook it.

This is a recipe developed by the famous Danish Chef, René Redzepi of Noma Restaurant (voted twice as the world's best restaurant)and is so simple anyone could do it and it makes a wonderful warm starter dish for Autumn. For 4 persons you will need:

For the cabbage:
Swiss chard 1 large, picked weight 250g
ground elder (optional) 50g
celery tops 35g just the leaves, or 80g if no ground elder

For the butter emulsion:
tea bag 1, Barrys Breakfast
water 25g
unsalted butter 75g

To finish:
fresh oysters 8
fresh cobnuts about 12, halved
vinegar 1-2 tsp

Make a cup of tea using the measured water. Remove the tea bag and pour into a pan. Beat in knobs of unsalted butter until the liquid and fat forms an emulsion that will cover the back of a wooden spoon. Pour off enough of the emulsion to leave a generous covering at the bottom of the pan and warm gently.

Tear up the leaves of the Swiss chard and put them into the pan, turning them gently in the emulsion until just covered and beginning to wilt. Add the more delicate ground elder, if using, and celery top leaves. Turn gently over the heat for another minute.

Add the meat and juices of the freshly shucked oysters and gently mix. Serve in a dish and dress with a dozen or so halved fresh cobnuts. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of fruit vinegar and a pinch of salt.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Baked Turbot, Saffron Potatoes & Wilted Spinach

So Autumn is officially here again and the evenings are drawing in. I love this time of year when the season of mists descend upon us and mellow fruitfulness transforms our garden(as Keats the poet would say!). I particularly like the log fire now the evenings are getting colder and I never need an excuse to light the candles or open a good bottle of red as I reach for that book I never had time to read but that is another story.
Back to the kitchen and turbot which is often a forgotten fish in the UK and Ireland. In France it is very well regarded and so it should be for the Brittany coast is full of turbot and French chefs have acclaimed it's unique taste and texture for years. It is simply delicious when baked.

You will need:

I fresh turbot
250g butter (+ extra for greasing)
2 saffron stamens crushed
2 waxy potatoes peeled and cut into 1 cm slices
400g baby spinach
3 tablespoons vermouth
1 dessertspoon each of chopped parsley, chives and chervil
1 lemon quartered


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Lightly butter a baking tray and place the turbot on it. Dot with 100g of butter and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Transfer the turbot from the oven to a plate and keep warm. Melt 50g of butter and stir in the saffron, set aside.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until cooked; drain (retaining the water) and toss in the saffron butter.

Blanch the spinach in the potato water for barely a minute , drain and keep warm.

Place the baking tray with the juices over a moderate heat, add the vermouth and reduce to half the volume. Whisk in 100g of butter, remove from heat, stir in the herbs and season to taste.

Serve the turbot with the potatoes, spinach and herb butter sauce and a lemon wedge.

Don't forget to serve with a nice cool glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fête de la Gastronomie

Fête de la Gastronomi

Given that French gastronomy is world famous, it is surely surprising that the first ever national day of celebration of French cuisine in France takes place this Friday. All over France in the big cities and the little villages, there will be some wonderful dishes being served in celebration of the gastronomy of France and so even in the tiny hamlet of Kerrouet, we will also be marking the event with our students.
Our menu for lunch and dinner will be open to all those lucky enough to respond to this blog and the table will be limited to twelve so you better get cracking if you want to come and celebrate with us!!
Lunch Menu
Starter: Mussel soup with saffron
Main: Caesar Salad
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dinner Menu
Starter: Lobster bisque
Main: Slow roasted lamb Provençal with oven baked vegetables
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Poached peaches and fresh rasberries in a sabayon sauce

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wine Tasting with Romain Bertrand

What a wonderful thing coincidence is! This is especially so when a wine merchant arrives at your door uninvited carrying some of the best wines of France in his briefcase and offering a free wine tasting opportunity. It was day four of the cooking course and one of our students had just asked our chef and sommelier, Poul, minutes earlier, whether he ever offered wine tasting sessions! Romain arrived in the door just as the question had been asked and gave us a delightful introduction to some of the extraordinary wines of the Roussillon region. This area, close to Spain, with long hours of sunshine and a unique earth, was recognised by Greeks, Romans and Knights Templar as excellent for wines long before the French categorised the wines of Banyuls in 1936 when it was certified by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (INAO), making Banyuls a controlled origin appellation. Cellier des Templiers offers a broad range of fine wines: 19 Banyuls and Banyuls Grand Cru, 15 Collioure wines and one fine Banyuls Vinegar. Whether you’re a wine professional or simply a wine enthusiast, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste. We certainly did starting with a deliciously rich rosé wine and working our way through to the sweet stront reds for which Banyuls have become world famous.

Banyuls and Collioure wines are forged by the sea, mountains, sun and wind and are, above all, wines for pleasure. Exposed to a generous climate, the vines yield expressive, consummate wines that are rich, powerful, elegant and distinguished. They express all the warmth of the sun and the ruggedness of the schistose soils through the grape that reigns supreme in this region, Grenache.
Step inside the world of the fine wines of Banyuls and Collioure.

What a striking contrast between this environment, which seems to endure so much, and the generous, rich and powerful wines of Banyuls and Banyuls Grands Crus.
Famous for their aromatic richness and their palette of colours, which evolve during a patient ageing in old wooden tuns or oak barrels, the Grands Vins de Banyuls and Banyuls Grands Crus are above all wines for pleasure.

AOC Banyuls (1936) and Banyuls Grands Crus (1962):
Production area defined by the 4 communes of the Côte Vemeille: Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Noir, a minimum of 50% for the Banyuls and 75% for the Banyuls Grand Cru; Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Malvoisie and Muscat.
Complementary grape-varieties: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah.
Yield: limited to 30 hl per hectare.
Fortification with neutral wine alcohol, not exceeding 10% of the must volume.
Ageing: a minimum of 10 months for the Banyuls and 30 months for the Banyuls Grands Crus.

Fortification (Mutage)
In the middle of the 13th Century, Arnau de Villanova, a Catalan doctor, invented the principle of fortification with a neutral wine alcohol in order to stop the fermentation and stabilise the wines. In this way, part of the natural sugar of the grape is preserved without modifying the aromas. The earlier the fortification takes place, the greater the natural sweetness of the wine.

The wines of Collioure are born on this terroir, from the marriage between the mineral character of the schist and the strength of the fruit.
The dominant grape-variety, the Grenache Noir, is combined with Syrah, Mourvèdre or Carignan, according to the domain. The richness of the aromatic palette depends on this alchemy.

AC Collioure Rouge (1971) and Rosé (1991):
Production area defined by the 4 communes of the Côte Vemeille: Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbère.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Syrah.
Complementary grape-varieties: Carignan, Cinsault (a very low percentage).
Yield: limited to 40 hl per hectare.

AC Collioure Blanc (février 2003)
Same production area as the AOC Collioure.
Principal grape-varieties: Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc.
Complementary grape-varieties: Roussanne, Marsanne and Vermentino.
Yield: limited to 40 hl per hectare.

You may contact Romain via his email through the cooking school website or just ask us and we will let you have his number. More info on

Recent Graduates from our Cooking School

It's been a busy August with four more students graduating from the one week cooking course. Congratulations to Caroline, Connie, Jayme and Saul! It was great fun too and especially when Domingo (ex Royal Ballet dancer) showed us all how to make a Salsa mayonaise!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Cooking Course Schedule 2012

Start date Finish date
16 April 20 April
23 April 27 April
7 May 11 May
14 May 18 May
21 May 25 May
28 May 1 June
4 June 8 June
11 June 15 June
18 June 22 June
25 June 29 June
2 July 6 July
9 July 13 July
16 July 20 July
23 July 27 July
30 July 3 August
6 Aug 10 Aug
13 Aug 17 Aug
20 Aug 24 Aug
27 Aug 31 Aug
3 Sept 7 Sept
10 Sept 14 Sept
17 Sept 21 Sept
24 Sept 28 Sept
1 Oct 5 Oct
8 Oct 12 Oct
15 Oct 19 Oct
22 Oct 26 Oct
29 Oct 2 Nov

Students can attend for 1 2,3,4 or 5 days. All courses are inclusive of lunch and dinner taken at the school and costs (in Euros)are as follows:

5 day course 875

4 day course 700

3 day course 525

2 day course 350

1 day course 175

Special discounts are available to Facebook members of French Cooking School and for group bookings.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Carpaccio of Langoustine with Fennel and Orange

Brittany is world famous for its seafoods and one of the most popular of these is the langoustine. This is a simple but delightful dish with the flavour of the fennel and dill working with the orange to produce an extraordinary burst of flavour with every bite!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

25 large langoustines or 40 small
1 fennel
1 large orange
half a cup fresh orange juice
1 bunch dill
olive oil
lemon juice
lobster shell bisque
salt & pepper


Shell the langoustine tails. Cut meat almost through, remove black gut string and flatten.
Slice whole fenell into thin strips, blanch in boiling water 1 minute. Peel the orange removing all membranes and seeds; cut into smaller pieces and collect remaining juice from the orange in a bowl.
Make bisque of lobster shells boiling well till it starts to thicken lightly. Whisk in a little olive oil and season with lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
Add olice oil to a heavy pan and heat lightly.Turn the langoustines on the pan quickly seasoning with salt and pepper. Watch the inside of the langoustine turn translucent in about three minutes.
Dip strips of fennel with pieces of orange in the juices on the pan.
Arrange fennel and orange with the langoustine tails on very hot plates. Whisk juice from the pan with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and drip over the plate.Drip with lobster shell bisque, decorate with sprigs of dill and serve immediately. A nice glass of Chardonnay goes well with this dish.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Summer Deals

We are offering some great value last minute summer deals at the moment. Here are a few:

Course 8 - 12 August 2011 Course reduced from 750 to 500 euros!

Course 22 - 26 August 2011 Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Course 5 - 9 September 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 700 euros!

Course 19 - 23 September 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Course 17 - 21 October 2011. Course reduced from 750 to 650 euros!

Free Cooking Course!

Bring four + friends along with you on a cooking course, and all your course fees are waved! You also get to stay a whole week in our posh "Princess Room" for free!

All the above offers are subject to availability and include lunch, dinner and all drinks/wines consumed at the school. In the course of one week, students will create up to 27 individual gourmet dishes under the expert guidance of our Michelin trained chef. Accommodation in local gites costs from 200 euros per week.

Join us on facebook (French Cooking School) and qualify for a 10 per cent discount on all our cooking courses. We will ensure you are the first to know of our special offers and events.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Scallop carpaccio with celery leaves

It's hot in Brittany at the moment so hot in fact that a very light lunch is called for. It's hard to beat scallop carpaccio. This is an ideal first course of simple fresh flavours and is classic seaside cuisine. The scallops are uncooked, so if ever there’s a time for sparkling freshness, this is it!


For each person
2-3 large scallops, white part only
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
A squeeze of lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
A small handful of celery leaves (from the centre ofa head of celery)
½ small spring onion, finely sliced


Cut off and discard the raised white rectangle of muscular flesh on the side of each scallop — it will make them tough. Quickly rinse the scallops and pat dry with kitchen paper, then slice them wafer thin — a properly sharp knife is useful here. Arrange either in a circle or randomly on a small plate. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt flakes, then squeeze some lemon juice over the top and add a few splashes of olive oil. Scatter with a few celery leaves and spring onion, then add a few grinds of black pepper and serve immdiately with a nice cool glass of muscadet.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Five Days of Gourmet Cooking


Bruschetta on toasted bread
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 mushroom sauce
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert:Panna Cotta with fresh summer fruits


Starter: Gazpacho
Main: Turkey breast marinated in soya, ginger and chili
served on a salad with toasted pine kernels
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses

Starter: Grilled scallops with endive soup and chives
Main: Veal fillet with basil sauce, crème fraiche potatoes and rosemary roasted vegetables
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Lemon cake with cointreau creme fraiche


Starter: Small tomato pizza
Main: Warm smoked fish on a salad with horseradish cream
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses

Starter: Grilled Langoustines with garlic butter
Main: “Frikadeller” Danish styled meat balls with
potato salad and cucumber salad
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Tiamisu


Visit to a local food market where we will taste the famous Briton Galettes!!

Starter: Mushroom Risotto
Main: Pan fried skate wing with lemon, capers, parsley & new potatoes
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Caramelized strawberries served with
cinnamon and a poppyseed ice cream


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

Starter: Lobster bisque
Main: Slow roasted lamb with oven baked vegetables
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Poached peach with a sabayon sauce and fresh raspberries

Friday, 22 July 2011

Plat du Jour

Starter: Artichoke in a citrus soup
Main: Salmon fish cakes on a garden salad with homemade sauce remoulade
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Parmesan cookies for drinks
Starter: Grilled scallops with Celeriac Remoulade and pesto
Main: Langoustine stuffed chicken leg with tarragon sauce
Cheese: Selection of French cheeses
Dessert: Caramelized strawberries served with
cinnamon and a poppy seed ice cream

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Crunchy Green Salad - A Healthy Seasonal Dish

We always suspected Mum was right when she warned us as kids to eat up our greens but when your a 12 year old boy, it's hard not to have some pet hates. Fortunately Mum was serious about good food and so when it came to compromise I was prepared to eat anything rather than have to stay indoors and help wash up after dinner!
This is an amazingly healthy family dish. It contains five greens which are suspected to be exceedingly beneficial to health.
Raw Brocolli
Brocolli contains sulforaphane. This boosts levels of “phase 2 enzymes”, which mop up potential carcinogens and pollutants and cart them out of our bodies via urine and stools. Broccoli has a supernutrient called indole-3-carbinol, believed to help balance oestrogen levels. It also contains vitamin C for boosting immunity. Sulforaphane may also help to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gram for gram, kale comes out top for both vitamin K and the yellow pigment called lutein. Vitamin K is known to be important for building strong bones. Lutein appears to help to prevent age-related blindness by reducing sun damage to part of the eye’s retina called the macula lutea.
Watercress contains phenethyl isothiocyanate, which appears to combat cancer-causing substances in tobacco smoke. One study has shown that eating an 80g serving daily reduces levels of damage to DNA in blood cells. DNA damage is considered to be important in the development of cancer.
Spinach has 12.6mg of lutein per 100g serving, which, while less than kale’s 21.9mg, is significant, especially since many find spinach more readily available and appealing to eat. Spinach also has glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid, two supernutrients believed to help to detox pollutants and protect the liver.
Probably the least glamorous of greens,cabbage is great for vitamin C, even when cooked. An average serving of summer cabbage gives us half our daily target. Being a cruciferous vegetable, it supplies some sulforaphane and gives us the supernutrient known as quercetin, which has been shown to help to fight viruses such as herpes simplex.

So here is a basic crunchy green salad dish for your table which will ensure you and your family get some of the best protection nature has to offer. Don't overcook vegetables and always source an organic supplier or better still grow your own!
This is a very flexible dish as you can add diced red or yellow peppers and radishes and small cauliflower florets to decorate.

Serves 10

50g cabbage (thinly sliced)
50g brocolli
50g kale (thinly sliced and steamed for 1 minute)
50g spinach
50g courgettes
50g green beans (steamed for 3 minutes)
50g watercress
2 sticks celery (thinly sliced)
2 green peppers
2 carrots (julienne slices)

For the dressing

200ml soured cream
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
4 tsp of roquefort cheese
salt & pepper


Slice the green cabbage very thinly, discarding any core. Wash , strain and place in a large bowl. Divide the brocolli into florets, cutting away the course stalks and slicing down the thin stalks and heads. Add to bowl. Allow the kale and green beans to cool and add along with the fresh spinach leaves and watercress. Top and tail the courgettes and slice as thinly as possible. Add to bowl. Cut the green peppers into halves or quarters, removing core and seeds. Slice very thinly and add to the bowl along with the celery and carrots.

For the dressing

Blend the sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper in a food processor. Stir in the cheese. Pour over the vegetables and toss well. Allow to marinate for one hour before serving.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Leek Terrine with Walnuts and Feta

This is a wonderful dish for a dinner party because both the terrine and the dressing can be prepared a day in advance so you have plenty of time to be with your guests.
Serves 6

15 small young leeks trimmed
10 chicory leaves
75g Feta cheese crumbled
50g walnut halves chopped
salt & pepper
Salad leaves (radicchio).

For the dressing

4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp of walnut oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp of French mustard


Split the leeks horizontially to within 5cm of the root end and wash thoroughly in running water. Boil the leeks in salted water for 10 minutes or until tender.
Layer a 450g loaf tin with the leeks laying head to tail alternately sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper to taste. Place another tin inside the first, pressing down the leeks. Invert both tins allowing the liquid to drain out. Chill for four hours with a 1kg weight on top.

To make the dressing:

Mix together all the ingredients seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside until required.
Carefully turn out the leek terrine. Using a sharp knife cut into 6 thick slices.
Let it come up to room temperature before serving. Place each slice on a serving plate and surround with salad leaves. Scatter the walnuts and feta cheese on top of the salad. Spoon over the dressing and serve.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Scallops with French Beans and Morels

Brittany is a great place to buy scallops and here you have one of my best loved dishes. Add fresh green beans and some tasty morels and you have dinner fit for a queen! For 4 you will need:

10 Fresh scallops
300g French Beans
2 shallots, finely chopped
60g morel mushrooms
4 wild garlic flowers (to garnish)
10tsp vegetable oil
100ml vegetable stock
50g butter
Sea salt and black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
4 pennyworth flowers (to garnish)

To make the green bean puree, sweat some shallots in butter in a pan until soft, add half the beans, a little vegetable stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Puree in a blender until smooth, then set aside and keep warm.
Blanch the remaining beans, in boiling salted for 2 minutes; refresh them under cold water . In a small pot, reheat the beans in 50ml of vegetable stock for several minutes, set aside and keep warm.
Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth.Place a pan on a medium heat and add 2 tsp of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the morel mushrooms and cook until tender adding a little butter and vegetable stock to keep moist.
Season the scallops on both sides with salt and white pepper. Place a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tsp of oil and add the scallops. Let the scallops caramelise for a couple minutes then turn over, add a knob of butter to the pan and finish cooking the scallops in the butter foam.
To assemble the dish, place a spoon of the bean puree in the middle of the plate, place the scallops, French beans, and morels around and sprinkle with lemon juice or lime. Garnish with wild garlic and pennyworth flowers and serve immediately with a nice cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc.