Friday, 14 July 2017

Bruschetta Lunch

Bruschetta is a lovely light and healthy summer lunch which is quick and easy to put together. More Italian than French, Bruschetta originated in Tuscany around 1950-55  and means "a dish of toasted (bruscare = to toast) bread slices drizzled with olive oil and usually topped with tomatoes and basil. In Provence there is a similar dish called Fougasse in that the flat (fogassa/focaccia) bread is brushed with garlic and olive oil and topped with a variety of ingredients including olives,


Serves 10

6-7 ripe plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic very finely chopped
1 shallot onion finely chopped
6-7 leaves of fresh basil chopped
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
lemon juice to taste
salt & pepper to season

1 x loaf (freshly baked) flat bread (focaccia) left to cool.


Rinse the tomatoes cut in half and de-seed them. Then chop up into fine dices. Mix the garlic onion basil and balsamic vinegar well and season with lemon juice salt and pepper. Slice the bread and toast it so that you have as many toasted slices as you need. Once toasted rub it with garlic and brush it sparingly with olive oil.

Align the toast on a serving platter olive oil side up, Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon so people may serve themselves over the bread or place some topping on each toasted slice and serve. If you top each slice of toast with tomatoes do so just before serving to avoid the toast becoming soggy.  May also be served with an nasturtium flower which of course is edible and looks delicious.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Summertime and the cooking is easy......

Summertime is here again and so what a pleasure it was to welcome back last week some students who last joined us ten years ago! Mandy and her friends made sure we cooked eat and drank late into the night! 

Students enjoying an aperitif on the patio

Chef Poul shows the ladies how to plate up a dessert of caramelised strawberries

The weather was so good that we took a few days off cooking and headed to the coast of Brittany. If you ever get a chance you just have to go west and spend time visiting the little coves which exist between Douarnenez and Plobannalec-Lesconil.

It's not just about sandy beaches and beautiful coves. There are over twenty unique/historical/tropical gardens to visit in Brittany and the one we visited at Parc Botanique de Cornouaille did not disappoint. Here is a link to all the gardens in Brittany

We had to leave Scoobeaudoo at home as we were staying with friends who had two dogs so he had a little sulk until he met up with his best friend and neighbour Louis. Thank you Louis!!

Back in the kitchen and busy again plating up the evening supper which is usually four courses with pared wines..
 Betty came all the way from Sidney and no sign of jet lag either! Not bad for a lady who has offspring over fifty years old!!
 We enjoy saying cheers in many languages. In Brittany we say "Yec'hed Mat" which is Breton as well as "Sante" which is French and Skol which is Danish and of course  "Sláinte" which is Irish. However this week I discovered "Yo" which is cheers in Vietnamese! Thank you Alex!

At the end of the day whether it is lunch or dinner - it is the food as well as the company which counts. This mussel soup with saffron was delicious:
 As was this classic French tomato salad on garlic bread (Bruschetta - recipe to follow) with nasturtium flower

This langoustine moose gave rise to some coos!!

The traditional roast chicken baked in its own juices with added garlic butter and served in a home made stock enriched tarragon sauce just melted on the palate!

Live long and stay strong with Chi Gong!

It's amazing that I never heard of Chi Gong until about a month ago! A Canadian student casually introduced me to the ancient Chinese exercise only because he was intending to "perform" in our garden before breakfast and cooking class.

Chi Gong which in Chinese means "Life Energy Cultivation"is a holistic system of coordinated body mind and breathing movements which help keep the brain active, the body supple and the mussels firm. Our instructor, Anthony tells me that a Chinese lady had introduced him to the exercise twelve years ago to assist him dealing with  stress and that the Chinese themselves have been practising Chi Ging for over 3000 years!

What attracted me to the exercise was that it is a very simple range of movements taking 11 minutes in total each morning and can be done in the bedroom, or the garden or even the kitchen! Anthony certainly expounded the virtues of Chi Gong with his fit youthful body who was certainly the youngest 81 year old gentleman I have ever met! You can see the movements in action and decide for yourself in the video below!

Chi Gong at French Dining School