Saturday, 5 November 2016

Traditional French Onion Soup

French Onion soup prepared and served the traditional way is hard to beat especially on a cold wet winter evening!
This classic dish is delicious and will have your guests salivating at the door! 
 PrepTime 35 mins serves 4-6 persons. 

4 medium Roscoff onions cut in half and sliced into 3mm slices (regular onions can be used too)

50 gram of butter

1 tbsp of plain flour

200 ml of dry white wine

1.5 litre of boiling water

salt & pepper

1 teaspoon  of sugar if needed

1 very small clove of garlic (optional)


To serve;

12 slices of Baguette cut into 1 cm thick slices

150 gram of grated Comte cheese - or similar cheese ( Emmentaler)



Put a large non stick pan on the stove and melt the butter without browning, add the onions and soften them for 5 minutes and stir frequently, season with salt and pepper. 


pre-heat   the oven to 200 degrees


Caramelising the onions by continuing cooking the onions for 20-30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour , remember to stir every 2 -3 minutes to preventing burning


sprinkle the flour an a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until it is very lightly brown, stir in the flour into the caramelised onions and mix thoroughly.


Gradually stir in the white wine and one third of the boiling water, Whisk well and add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, skim off any impurities from the surface and simmer for 15 minutes. 


Taste and correct the seasoning, adding the sugar if needed. and a tiny bit of garlic 



Arrange the bread slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated cheese over them.

place under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to melt and slightly brown cheese.

serve the soup with the croutons on top and serve the rest of the cheese separately .


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nicest village in France

We count ourselves lucky to live within easy access to two of the most popular tourist sites in France : the amazing monastic fortress of  Le Mont St Michel  and the megalithic spectacle of Carnac. However Brittany has lots more to offer. The little town of Rochefort - en- Terre has won the prestigious "Prettiest village in France" twice in recent years and is only just over an hour away from our cooking school. Just the spot to visit in between cooking classes!

There is a lovely chateau to see as well as the town with its wide range of shops and galleries. It is a real gem! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dance of Death, 11 Apostles and an Irish Prince all in one little chapel

Students often ask me what is there to see and do in Brittany when not cooking in the kitchen. I usually refer to the astonishing beauty of the Briton coastline, or the medieval splendour of ancient towns and villages but rarely do I think of churches! Well that is a big mistake as I recently found out by my trip to the little 13th century Chapel of Kermaria An Isquit  located just six kilometres from the town of Plouha in northern Brittany and only about an hour's drive from our cooking school.  This little chapel deserves to be nominated for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site for its breathtaking frescoes of the Dance of Death visible along both sides of the nave and painted between  1483 and 1501.

The chapel is thought to be the work of Henry of Avaugour and other Lords of Goelo who wanted to show their gratitude to the Virgin Mary after returning home safely from their crusades in the Holy Lands in 1240. The first building dates from the 13th century includes the first four spans of the nave and the side aisle.  It was promoted by the monks of the Abbey of Beauport and expanded as it became an important place of pilgrimage with further expansion in the 15th and 17th centuries. The visitor enters through a Gothic porch where amazing original wooden sculptures of the 12 apostles stand either side as you enter the chapel.  Sadly one statute (of St Luke) was stolen from the collection in 1907 and has never been found. More worrying is that there are signs of woodworm in some of the sculptures so they do need proper maintenance and security if they are to last for future generations to enjoy.

However it is the Danse Macabre or Dance of Death which draws most visitors to the chapel. This is an extraordinary collection of frescoes which were only discovered in the middle of the 19th century by Charles de Taillard one of the original descendants of the lords who owned Kermaria since the 16th century! In fact it was the discovery of the frescoes in 1857 which saved the chapel from demolition. These frescoes were initially inspired by the Dance of Death painted in Paris in 1424 under the arcades of the cloister of the grave of the Satin Innocents, reproductions of which were widely circulated throughout Europe.

The thirty figures which are holding hands represent living persons of all ages and all classes but separated by emaciated cadavers who put a rhythm into the dance. Here is some further information:

There is so much more to see here that I suggest you visit at 3pm in the afternoon when you can avail of a very knowledgeable guide to show you around (the chapel is open from 10.30am to 12 noon and 3pm to 5pm each day).

Initially I assumed this little fellow was St George with his dragon but I have been reliably informed and that he is St Michel et le dragon!  You can also see him at Le Mont St Michel which is another great trip to make one day!

I was intrigued to note the commemoration to St Maudez with the tiny Irish harp in the little stained glass window on the left side of the alter.  This Irish prince had visited Brittany in the 6th century and gives his name to both the island of Maudez (near Ile de Brehat) where he built a monastery and the commune of St. Maudez in Cotes d'Armor.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Latest Review

Of all the culinary courses you have arranged for me, this was quite simply
the best so far. From the small class size to the very, very hands on
preparation to the sheer amount of recipes we learned to blend together from
scratch including lessons on presentation and proper table setting to the
simply sublime flavors of each and every dish--appetizers to desserts and
everything in between. There really was no dish I did not enjoy! Throw some
amazingly refreshing cocktails in that mix, too! As that is how Poul started
every dinner. I have already replicated some of these new dishes back in
Hawaii to the gratification of many sated stomachs!!

Both Poul and Niall were friendly and accommodating at all times. Meal
conversations were varied and interesting and very international. Definitely
as much fun as the classes themselves.

I will definitely pass the word on to friends and will hope I get to come
back again one day in the future.

Lia H August 2014

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

“What's not to Love!!!! cooking & eating in la belle Bretagne!”

May 30, 2016
monimitc (1 review)
Toronto, Canada
Fun! Fun! Fun! My week at the French Dining School in Brittany was extraordinaire! The setting, a restored country house in a tiny Breton village, is truly a piece of heaven. Combine that with a great cooking/learning experience, followed up with wonderful, convivial dining along with afternoons exploring the environs, and you've got a recipe for success!

Poul & Niall are generous, welcoming hosts who put us all at ease right from the start and their delightful dog, Scooby, was for me the icing on the gateau!

A truly memorable respite from Real Life! 


Friday, 27 May 2016

Trip Adviser Award

We are delighted to have received the doll award from Trip Adviser. Thank you to all our students who made it possible. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Culinary life

Beef Wellington 

Kerrouet House

New graduates 

Gastronomical awards 

Globe singers

St Malo water glasses

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Walking the dog around Kerrouet

Scoobeaudoo needs at least two good walks a day. Actually he prefers to run and that is another story! It's a busy morning at the school as we have six very enthusiastic Norwegian students attending our cooking course. Norway is too cold for harvesting nettles so they have requested a foraging tour here as nettle soup is on the menu for lunch followed by white asparagus with sauce hollandaise. 

Pot of nettles

The final product 

The locals harvest everything and so it is a common sight to see sheaves of old Fuchsia drying out in the hedgerows. This will be used to get the fires started with the lovely perfumed smell of fuchsia.


It's a lovely time of the year with all the flowers bursting out. Here a a few photos but now I have to return to the kitchen!

The students also cooked a Parmesan soufflé 

Which wend down very well with a few glasses of rosé. Dinner this evening was a nice combination with Langoustins for starters 

And rabbit in a mustard sauce with fennel green beans and new potatoes 

And following the cheese board we finished with home made poppy seed ice cream with caramelised strawberries!!

Friday, 4 March 2016

A trusted recipe for Walnut Bread and a Poem!

The rising dough is slow to grow
The yeast being such a clever beast
Give it some time and do not dread
The tasty miracle  of walnut bread!

Standing proud now in full show
The heady smells of fresh baked dough
Transformed to make us salivate 
As we eye up the walnut bait

The happy baker has given birth
To walnut bread with generous girth
A texture rich in crumb and crust
Thanks to a recipe one can truly trust!

Trusted recipe (over two days)


350  ml water
20 gram yeast
1 small tablespoon  salt
ca. 650-700 gram flour
100 gram chopped walnuts

Put the walnuts into a pan with water and boil, chill the water and nuts.

Pour the water and nuts in a food processor bowl, add the yeast and let it mix for a minute
slowly adding the flour and when the dough is not sticking to the bowl, the dough  has enough flour.
(If you have stock water /vegetable water use that instead of plain water for best results)

Put cling film over the bowl and let it rest for an hour; put it in the fridge until the next day.

After the dough has rested, pour it out on a table and knead the dough.

Make the dough into breads and let it double in size. Meanwhile heat the oven to  220c degrees.

When the bread is ready to be baked, put it in the middle of the oven, pour a little glass of water
into a tray in the bottom of the oven , do the same process again 5 minutes later
and bake the bread for 25 minutes more.

Once baked, remove from oven and wrap in a clean tea towel until cool. This helps form a nice crust on the bread.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Green Pea Soup - Soup Ninon

This classical gourmet soup is a real saviour. Like a get out of jail card, you sneak a packet of frozen peas from the freezer and within a few minutes you have a delicate and absolutely delicious soup the likes of which will simply amaze your guests and impress even the most die hard gourmet critic!
It looks great. It tastes great. What more can I say? Let's do it!

Ingredients for six people

1 ltr light chicken stock (no tomato purée)
150 ml cream
3 table spoons of crème fraiche
1 table spoon of unsalted butter
500 g small green peas (fresh or frozen)
Salt & Peper to season
To serve
1 table spoon of finely chopped fresh chives 
A little whipped cream


Boil the chicken stock, cream and crème fraiche for three minutes. Add the peas and boil for one minute longer. 
Blend the soup then strain it.
Add salt and pepper to season as required
Add a dash of butter.

Bring back to almost the boil and serve in a warm bowl with chives and whipped cream.

If you really wish to blow your gourmet critics mind, add a little champagne or sparkling wine to the soup just before serving it. Bon appetite. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Ils sont la crème de l'artisanat culinaire breton

Brittany is currently flourishing with culinary artisans. Virtually every area has its gastronomic member whether it be making cider (as in our local Cidre Fermier above), honey, baguettes, terrines, pâté, galettes, crêpes, fruits de mer, saucisson, eau-de-vie, gâteau, croissants au beurre and of course le fromage. Within a few minutes drive from French Dining School you can visit a famous cheese farm, a cider producer, a pâté maker, a snail farmer and a traditional baker using a medieval stone oven. We enjoy sourcing our food products locally and so it is with great pleasure that we support Artisans Gourmands de Bretagne. More information available on their website

Stuffed Chicken Leg with Langoustines and Spinach

Students were busy yesterday preparing the stocks for the week as well as the main dish for dinner which was stuffed chicken leg with langoustines and spinach.  Most people don't realise how versatile a chicken leg is once the bone is removed. It can be stuffed with a whole range of wonderful ingredients depending on the mood and what is available in season. Yesterday we stuffed the chicken leg with langoustines and spinach but you could easily have used garlic and cheese or basil pesto and parma ham or sage and grapes or a roast pepper with tarragon and black pepper. As I say it depends on what is available and your imagination.

Ingredients (for 6 persons)

6 chicken legs de-boned
12 langoustines or king prawns
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 shallot onion finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Spinach leaves blanched


Peel the langoustine tales leaving the meat. Spread the de-boned chicken leg out and spread the spinach leaf over the inside flesh as a base. Place the two langoustines inside and sprinkle with onion garlic salt and pepper. Roll up the leg so that the stuffing is in the middle and sew up with string to keep the contents inside . Fry the legs on a pan for 5 minutes and finish off in the oven for another 15 minutes at 220 degrees.
Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes, remove the string and serve with seasonal vegetables and a home made chicken stock.

Here is a link to a short video of Chef Poul demonstrating how to stuff a de-boned chicken leg:

Chef Poul - chicken leg with langoustines & spinach

Monday, 29 February 2016

How to de-bone a chicken leg

Everyone is familiar with roast chicken leg but few people realise how easy and delicious a stuffed chicken leg can be! A chicken leg cooked in its own fat and stuffed with your favourite ingredients and herbs is hard to beat, You can stuff chicken legs with cheeses, mushrooms, herbs like rosemary or basil or langoustines. The world is your oyster literally!

However many people find it hard to remove the bone from a chicken leg. It is important that this is done properly if you are to stuff the leg and sew it up afterwards. Here is a video of Chef Poul de-boning a chicken leg. Later we will add a video of the boneless chicken leg being stuffed with langoustines and stitched up afterwards before being roasted n the oven.  


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Breton Galette

Today is pancake day and so it is appropriate to talk about the Breton Galette! So much has been written about pancakes generally, they are almost ubiquitous  around the world but surprisingly it was not until I came to Brittany that I discovered the uniqueness and beauty of the Breton Galette.

What makes the Briton Galette unique is that it is made from buckwheat. The fact that it is not actually a wheat but a fruit seed more related to sorrel and rhubarb means that people sensitive to gluten can also enjoy it. Buckwheat has been grown in Brittany since the 15th century. It was a staple diet for the poor and particularly appropriated as it grew well even in poor soils. It was the Duchess Anne of Brittany (1477 – 1514) who first ensured its widespread cultivation in Brittany so that her people would not starve. It took only three months to harvest and became known as "100 days of plant", No wonder that Anne is still held in such high regard in Brittany. The galette is such a versatile dish. The secret however is knowing how to make it. The traditional method is a complex  skill handed down from mother to daughter over generations. Sadly now many people have lost that knowledge. Most folk in Brittany simply buy their galettes ready made and reheat them at home adding additional ingredients as required. However like most things bought, they are so much tastier and better when home made, Our closest neighbour fortunately has the knowledge and is happy to share it, Although the ingredients are simple the trick is in knowing the method. How to mix the batter and when the texture is right. In the days before food processors, woman would use their arms in a folding method for hours and hours over a large basin of batter to ensure the texture  was just right. In fact an unusual form of arthritis developed in Brittany from the practice! Thank God for Kenwood!

For 8 galettes you will need:

250g buckwheat flour
1 egg*
1 tsp of coarse sea salt (Guérande)
100ml milk*
200ml water
butter/lard for cooking the galette

It is best to make the batter the day before if possible. Sift the flour into a bowl making a well in the centre. Add the egg and salt into the well using your hands and gradually including the flour. Add the water to the milk and then add this to the mixture a little at a time until you have a very smooth batter with the texture of a custard. Now place it in the food processor for 8 minutes or so and add more of the milky water until the texture changes to a thin cream. Leave to rest in a cool place (not the fridge!) overnight.

Preheat the oven to 110 degrees cg. Grease a large frying pan with butter or lard and place over a medium heat. If you are lucky enough to have a real fire then use very dry wood and once the BBQ is hot and established, the fragrance from the smoke in the galette is delightful. Stir the batter and put a ladleful into the hot frying pan and twist as you spread it over the base. Cook for a minute or so until the edges are brown and then turn over and repeat. Once it is cooked, place in the oven to keep warm.

The beauty of the galette is now you have made them you can be as flexible and as ingenious as you wish in how to finish them off. Traditionally the Britons would simple place the galette in a bowl of buttermilk and consume for a hearty breakfast. More often today, the galette is served with egg, cheese and ham and at lunchtimes you will see long queues of people waiting for their galette Saucisse (Breton Hot Dog). I have tried to keep off processed foods so prefer to use fresh vegetables as often as possible. In the above dish I used a little cooked smoked duck along with some broccoli and a little French mustard!  In Brittany galettes are usually served with a refreshing cup of cider and if you have any cravings for a sweet dessert you can ask for a crêpe to follow!

* The classical traditional Briton galette would not include an egg or milk in the batter just buckwheat flour and water and a pinch of salt. I have added these ingredients as they have benefited making the batter.

Monday, 8 February 2016

A visit to the food market at Dinan

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


Take your pick!

Chard & Pumpkins

Practice your French

Great displays

Carrots galore





Fresh made pasta