Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Watercress Soup

Potage de Cresson as it is called in Brittany is excellent served hot or cold. It is so easy to make and so tasty we often get asked by our students to include it in our cooking classes! Here is a nice recipe.

You will need:

4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion chopped
1 bunch of scallions chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 medium potatoes peeled and sliced
2 quarts chicken stock
1 bunch of watercress chopped
1 egg yolk
1 cup double cream
salt, pepper and nutmeg


Melt the butter in a saucepan; add the onions and scallions and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the flour and add the potatoes. Stir in the stock a little at a time and and bring to the boil. Season with the salt pepper and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the watercress keeping a few leaves to garnish. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and purée in a blender. When ready to serve reheat the soup. Combine the egg yolk and cream. Remove the soup from the heat and stirr in the egg cream mixture. Add the minced watercress leaves as a garnish and serve.

Monday, 6 June 2011

People and Food Magazine Summer 2011

From People and Food Magazine (Dorset UK)
Summer 2011
The French Dining School
Kerrouet Brittany

There are no signs for the French Dining School at Kerrouet House in
Brittany, so Danish born chef, Poul Erik Jensen, strolls up the road in his
chefs whites to find me and show me where to go. He has left the other
students chopping vegetables for the court bullion in which we will soon
boil lobsters for tonight's lobster bisque. A combination of road closures
and bad map reading has made me late and I make my apologies but quickly
realise that the French Dining School is a very relaxed affair. Within
minutes I'm learning to hold a chopping knife like a pen to create star
shaped carrots to use in one of our lunch courses - Artichoke Hearts in a
Citrus Sauce with Crispy Pancetta. We quickly make a French dressing to go
with the salad that will accompany our second course of fresh salted cod,
smoked for 7 minutes in a small oven top smoker. As we work Poul talks
genially with his students, demonstrating techniques and helping them to
prepare the food themselves.

After a lifetime in the food industry he is no longer driven by the need to
create cutting edge dishes and now concentrates on imparting his cooking
knowledge to students in an unpressurised and relaxed environment. Poul
caters for English speakers from all over the world, showing a wide range of
recipes that include a strong Danish influence. Over a three day course
students can cook dishes ranging from Mussel Soup with saffron, Veal fillet
with basil sauce to Pan fried Skate Wing, Asparagus Risotto or Panna Cotta.
On my visit we learned to bone chicken and compile and cook a delicious
Langoustine stuffed Chicken Leg with Tarragon Sauce, followed by Caramelized
Strawberries served with Cinnamon and an extraordinarily delicious poppyseed
ice cream. He is hoping to build his cookery school slowly and organically
and allow students to enjoy his courses without fuss or stress.

Although as a youngster he tinkered with the idea of becoming an electrical
engineer, the strong influence of an aunt, who had shown him the joy of
cooking, led him to decide instead to pursue a three and a half year
apprenticeship learning to become a chef. As his goal was to run his own
restaurant he decided to further his education in the industry by completing
another two and a half year apprenticeship, learning the art of restaurant
administration, from waiting tables to designing interior layout, before
opening the Ane Kkirstine in Ebeltoft near Arhus in Denmark. Over eight
years he built it up to a Michelin star standard. He has also worked for a
time on the QE2 as well as a spell in Melbourne, Australia at Mietta’s
before moving to England where he worked at Noble Rot in London and the
Wallbrook Club with Albert Roux. He is a member of Eurotoque, International
Federation Cuisinier Exclusive d'Europe and the Confrérie de la Chaîne des

At Kerrouet House, (the Bretons pronounce the 't'), Poul has opened his home
to allow students the opportunity to get a hands on cookery experience in a
holiday atmosphere. Unlike other residential cookery schools the focus is
not on certificates or qualifications but on the enjoyment of cooking
delicious food as simply as possible, whilst exploring the local area. Poul
runs five day and three day courses for a maximum of eight people, or will,
where possible, tailor make a course for a group if requested. Students can
find their own local accommodation or stay in one of two gites nearby.

The day begins at 10am with a run through of the day’s menu and the
preparation of lunch and anything that needs to be done in advance for the
evening meal. After lunch students are free to explore the local area and
usually on Thursday Poul will arrange a visit to the nearby market in Dinan.
At 6pm students gather again in the kitchen to prepare a sumptuous four
course dinner to enjoy together at Poul’s kitchen table. The atmosphere is
warm and friendly and strangers, brought together by a common interest, can
soon become friends. On my visit I met the delightful Nishimuras, a Japanese
couple now resident in California who booked their cookery course as part of
a ten day trip to explore Northern France. By the third day Mr Nishimura
seemed to have perfected the vegetable chopping equivalent of playing air
guitar, constantly practising his chopping technique without knife or

Kerrout House is about an hour’s drive from St Malo and can be reached from
the UK on Brittany Ferries to St Malo from Portsmouth or Plymouth to
Roscoff. For information visit
or telephone Poul direct at +33 2963
44 381.

Editor Fergus Byrne

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cucumber and Ricotta Mousse

All the talk about dangerous cucumbers and to think millions of absolutely safe vegetables and delightful salads have been wasted because of misinformation and euroglobal malpractices*. If ever there was a case for growing and consuming locally produced food products this is it. Of course I feel sorry for the farmers who depend on the markets for their income but the good news is that cucumbers have never been cheaper and there are lots of wonderful things you can do with them! Reminds me of the Nigerian lady who visited my family's vegetable shop in London some twenty years ago. She ordered 50 cucumbers and my sister, who was working during her student holidays, innocently inquired whether a party was being planned , got the shocked response "Good God they are far too good to eat"! She went on to explain of the medicinal properties of the simple cucumber and how she was planning to squeeze their suculent juices into her bath water!
Well I am sure there are health properties in cucumber but their taste and texture are also of benefit to humanity so here is a lovely unusual recipe which will delight your guests at the next summer lunch in the garden:
Make this dish the night before your lunch!


1 organic cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
1 tbsp of sea salt
3 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 leaf gelatin
1 cup organic fresh double cream
2 cups of fresh ricotta
Black pepper
Handful of fresh chopped parsley, chives and scallions


Mix the cucumber, salt and vinegar in a bowl. Remove into a colander, put a plate on top and leave to drain for 1 hour. Remove plate and press down gently with a cloth. Soak the gelatin leaf in cold water for 5 minutes. When disolved, mix in the cream leaving a smooth mixture. Add the ricota and cucumber gently mixing all together including the taragon vinegar. Add the herbs, scallions and pepper to taste. Remove to an oiled mold and leave to set in the fridge overnight.

Turn out the mousse onto a large plate just before you wish to serve it. Serve with freshly baked bread rolls and a crisp cool glass of muscadet.

*Of course, clean all vegetables before eating, follow local health guidelines and always use a reliable source.