As much as I love Fall, it doesn’t feel like it’s official until I’ve made one of my favorite desserts of ALL time, Ina Garten’s mouth wateringly delicious Pear Clafouti.
Somehow the heavenly aroma of ripe Bartlett pears, sugar, vanilla, pear brandy and lemon zest baking away in the oven makes it truly official for me, despite what the calendar might say. So if you’re looking to ring in the season with something sweet this month, this delightful recipe is the perfect choice and it also couldn’t be easier to make.
And if you’ve never “clafoutied” before (YES, it can be used as a verb), a clafouti is essentially a French dessert which originated in the Limousin region of Southwest France. It features sliced fruit (traditionally cherries but pears are in season longer), arranged in a buttered dish which are then covered with a custard-like batter and baked until golden brown. The clafouti is then dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served warm or at room temperature. Honestly, I’ll take it any way I can get it, it’s THAT delicious!
And while Ina’s recipe already has pear brandy baked into it, this Pear Clafouti also happens to pair deliciously well with one of my new favorite dessert wines, the Barboursville Vineyards Passito from Virginia ($32/375mL). Yes – V I R G I N I A!
This wine is a blend of Moscato Ottonel and Vidal grapes which were air dried in order to concentrate their flavor and sugars. The dried grapes were then pressed and the resulting juice underwent a lengthy fermentation with additional time on the lees to accentuate the wine’s mouthfeel. The result is a viscous, luscious wine with notes of spiced pear, candied citrus and vanilla which still retains a bright acidity and lightness to balance its sweetness.
If you find yourself hankering for something other than pumpkin spice to satisfy your sweet tooth and put you in the Fall spirit, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Just be sure you also have some of your favorite vanilla ice cream on hand to round out the experience (Haagen-Dazs is the BOMB!).
I really hope you enjoy this recipe for Pear Clafouti and do YOU have a favorite Fall dessert OR dessert wine you look forward to all year? If so, I’d love to know so please let me know in the Comments section below.
After an evening of Champagne and deliciousness (for all the deets on Day 1 or Day 2 please click the links) somehow we all managed to make it to our morning cooking class on time. Of course it helped that the kitchen was right outside our bedroom doors. And we could wear our comfy PJs and/or yoga clothes!
Day 3 began with Chocolate Fondants. You know those decadent chocolatey little cakes with the melty chocolate centers that ooze out when you greedily dig into it with your fork? Yeah, that was how we started Day 3. Chef Dominie guided us through the proper steps of combining the melted dark chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, flour and cocoa and the subsequent dividing of the heavenly concoction between our generously greased and cocoa-ed baking tins.
Then we focused on some classic French sauces including hollandaise and aioli. Chef Sandrine demonstrated her tried and true recipe for hollandaise which was so incredibly creamy and luscious it caused a feeding frenzy among us. Ok, maybe it was mostly me who couldn’t control myself BUT it just so happened to be ready precisely when Steve and I pulled our Artichokes Confit out of the oven. Is it really MY fault if they taste so good slathered with hollandaise?
I had never even made artichokes before but I was so inspired by them at the Antibes market. And what better place to attempt uncharted culinary territory than The Courageous Cooking School? It turns out with a little guidance and some teamwork with the Hubs, it wasn’t so difficult after all.
We simply trimmed the bottoms, giving the artichokes a flat surface to rest on, popped them in a baking dish and seasoned them liberally between all of their triangular, serrated leaves with extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, sea salt and pepper. They emerged from the oven a burnished greenish-brown and the flesh inside each leaf was incredibly succulent and flavorful.
We were also tasked with using the ingredients on hand to come up with side dishes to serve with the evening’s meal, a very special Salt-Baked Fish prepared by Makenna. Steve and I decided on a variation of Potatoes Lyonnaise featuring thinly sliced potatoes and caramelized onions sauteed in butter and then garnished with chopped fresh herbs.
After all of our dishes were prepped, we headed out for another field trip to a very unique winery. We took the scenic route east through the undulating hills of the South of France, passing oodles of charming towns, each more inviting than the next.
Approximately 45 minutes later, we pulled into the driveway of Domaine des Hautes Collines located in Saint-Jeannet, one of the Perched Villages of the Cote d’Azur. Founded in the 12th and 13th centuries, these charming villages were founded when coastal inhabitants fled inwards to protect their families from marauders and pirates. While not so much an issue today, these hilltop villages provide dramatic views of the beautiful coastline.
Lining the driveway of the chateau were large glass vessels filled with white and red wines. Little did we know, these vessels are key to producing the winery’s unique offerings which include white, rosé, red and late harvest wines.
We were greeted by Proprietor Georges Rasse, an affable, mustachioed gentleman who, together with his brother Denis, took over the winery for their father in 1986. Rasse spoke very passionately about his wines and the region, informing us the area has been making wine since the days of the Romans.
Today, the 4 hectare estate grows a wide assortment of grapes including Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Semillon, Rolle, Braquet, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay.
What makes Rasse’s wines so unique, however, is how he incorporates one of wine’s supposed “enemies” in the winemaking process: namely the sun! Rasse fills the clear glass vessels with his wines and then exposes them to direct sunlight, sometimes for up to three months, before they are bottled or transferred to oak barrels. He claims this sunlight exposure helps to stabilize and purify the wines thereby reducing the need for sulfites or other preservatives.
We thoroughly enjoyed touring the winery and listening to Rasse’s interesting history making wine in this special region. We also tasted through a selection of his offerings including a white, two rosés, two red wines and a late harvest Semillon before it was time to head back to La Pitchoune (more on these wines later!).
The pièce de résistance of the evening’s meal was Makenna’s Salt-Baked Fish with Stuffed with Lemon and Herbs served with a dreamy, garlicky aioli. While it might sound (and look) quite glamorous, this is actually an ancient way of cooking and once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite easy.
Makenna chose a beautiful fresh dorade for the recipe although snapper, sea bass or bream would work just as well. She proceeded to make the salt crust mixture out of raw eggs, fennel or coriander seeds, lemon peel, water and of course kosher or grey salt. When fully combined, the mixture had the consistency and weight of wet sand.
The cleaned fish was then stuffed with fresh, citrusy lemon slices and an assortment of fresh herbs including rosemary, thyme and parsley. The stuffed fish was then laid upon a baking sheet already covered with the salt mixture and then enveloped in the briny, citrus studded crust.
The result was a succulent fish seasoned to perfection – it didn’t taste over salted at ALL! The garlicky aioli was the perfect accompaniment as was the array of side dishes we had all made including our Potatoes Lyonnaise, a delicious Quinoa Salad, delightful Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds and Roasted Asparagus with a spicy, flavorful Romesco Sauce.
As I drifted off to sleep that night, I couldn’t help but think we only had one full day left at La Pitchoune. Thankfully, between my contentedly full stomach and rosé wine haze I decided to worry about that tomorrow.
The post Postcards from La Pitchoune: Day 3 of The Courageous Cooking School appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
As I swirled the hot pan, the generous knob of butter sizzled and skated across its surface. Just before it browned, I ladled in two beaten eggs which sizzled and spat as they hit the butter.
According to Julia, my timing was spot on.
“You should hear the eggs sizzle as they hit the pan,” her distinctive, melodious voice instructed in the vintage French Chef video. Seconds later, after vigorously shaking the pan to fold the mixture over, the omelette was done.
“Then flip the pan upside down and onto the plate.” As I turned my omelette out onto the green ceramic plate that looked suspiciously similar to those in her iconic TV series, a sense of wonderment washed over me.
Here I was in the South of France, in Julia Child’s former kitchen learning her favorite way to make an omelette. For a life long foodie, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Our culinary mecca had taken us across the pond to La Pitchoune, Julia and Paul Child’s home in the South of France where they spent many a blissful Summer sipping rosé and cooking “à la Provençale.”
They built the modest home, complete with stucco walls and a red tiled roof, in 1964 on the property of Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-author and dear friend, Simone Beck. The handshake deal between the friends specified that once the Childs were done using it, the home would revert back to Beck’s husband’s family.
The Childs decided to call their home La Pitchoune, or “The Little Thing” (also affectionately called “La Peetch”) and it was a dream come true for both of them. Standing there in that hallowed kitchen, I certainly shared their sentiment.
While used for cooking classes over the years, La Pitchoune is currently under new ownership and home to The Courageous Cooking School where we were enrolled in its first official, week-long cooking retreat. The six of us students resided at La Peetch during that time (the house has three bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms) and all of our cooking classes took place in its wonderful kitchen, still adorned with outlined pegboards, an array of copper pots and pans and other reminders of its past.
Our fearless leader for the week was the property’s new owner and founder of The Courageous Cooking School, Makenna Held. A statuesque six feet tall, Held has a lot more in common with Child than just her height. Like Child, she is also an American-born Francophile and Smith alumna with a passion for the culinary arts and a dynamic drive.
Held did a remarkable job planning and executing our week long curriculum despite a few minor curve balls, including the unexpected, holiday weekend closure of the local épicerie and boulangerie which provides the ingredients for our cooking classes. Well accustomed to the nuances of life in rural France, Held made the experience feel more like an adventure than an inconvenience.
Held greeted us on a sunny, Sunday afternoon as we arrived at La Peetch. With a glass of Champagne in hand, we all toured the beautiful property and got acquainted with our classmates for the week, a fabulous group of Canadian gals.
When finished, we eagerly feasted on a mouthwatering meal including succulent, freshly shucked oysters; a trio of French cheeses; a divine charcuterie board featuring prosciutto, saucisson, French pepperoni, cornichons and tangy Dijon mustard; a duo of savory tapenades served with bright green, crunchy endive leaves; plump green and black olives marinated in olive oil and herbs; a delightful mixed green salad, and a loaf of crusty, country bread with oodles of heavenly French butter.
We washed the deliciousness down with a seemingly endless supply of Champagne and rosé. Needless to say, La Pitchoune had a certain je ne sais quoi that made The Miskews feel right at home!
Our cooking classes began bright and early each morning around 8:30am. In between our classes, we were treated to yoga classes, field trips to local purveyors and winemakers and, on our last full day, a fabulous, multi-course lunch at a local Michelin 2-star restaurant.
Day one began with the mastery of the aforementioned omelette which turned out deliciously well, although not the most perfect thing I’ve ever made.
But that’s what Julia was all about, after all – NO apologies, NO excuses!
And when finished with some additional butter and a generous sprinkle of chopped thyme, marjoram and parsley plucked straight from La Peetch’s garden, it was so delicious it didn’t matter that it didn’t look perfect.
Our omelette lesson was followed by a lesson on knife skills taught by our two resident Chefs for the week, Dominie and Sandrine. We each took turns thinly slicing potatoes and layering them in a deep baking dish, seasoning generously between each layer with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The layered potatoes were then drenched in a fragrant, garlic-infused cream before being baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbly. The end result? Heavenly Potatoes Dauphinoise!
Next, we tackled a duo of tartares: salmon and steak to be exact. We continued to hone our knife skills by chopping each protein into small, lustrous cubes, although, that’s essentially where the instruction ended.
You see, The Courageous Cooking School doesn’t focus on individual recipes per se. Rather, it promotes the mastery of techniques which can have many useful applications, as well as learning to trust your own taste.
The ingredients for both the salmon and steak tartares were set out for us to experiment with and guidance was readily available from our resident Chefs. In addition to knife skills, this exercise focused on layering flavors and textures and learning how they synergize with one another.
In the end, we each had a slightly different, yet delicious incarnation of these classic dishes which represented our own unique, individual styles. As someone who didn’t like salmon prior to the trip, I was pretty much hooked after this class! I’ve already made our version of Salmon Tartare twice since we’ve been home (please see recipe below!).
A mid-afternoon yoga session was the perfect remedy for our weary, jet-lagged bodies after a long morning in the kitchen. Held, who’s also a certified yoga instructor, led us on a 30 minute, non-intimidating session focused on relaxation, stretching and breathing. With my pre-existing orthopedic conditions, I was reluctant to participate but ultimately, VERY glad I did. It left me relaxed and back spasm free for the rest of the day!
And what better way to end one’s day than with a trip to the local confiserie (aka candy shop)? The beautiful drive through the back country of Grasse to the small town of Gorges du Loup where the confiserie was located was a welcomed chance to bask in the sheer beauty of the day. The brilliant sun, verdant scenery and heavenly temperatures were true sensory ambrosia.
Located at the foot of a towering viaduct along the banks of a roaring river, Confiserie Florian was nothing short of enchanting. Founded in 1949, the confectionery welcomed us with charming, creamsicle colored walls and intricate wrought iron gates. The interior was also elegantly decorated with 17th and 18th century French antiques and beautifully patina-ed candy making equipment.
As the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is home to many fabulous fruits and flowers such as violets, roses, lemon verbena and clementines. Confiserie Florian transforms this bucolic bounty into its signature candied clementines, floral and fruit jams, as well as crystallized verbena leaves, violets and rose petals.
Our guided tour led us through the traditional, time intensive processes used to make many of these specialties. Our wonderful tour guide also allowed us to sample some of their offerings including the citrusy, minty crystallized verbena leaves; sweet, perfumey candied violets; and lightly sugared, fruit flavored bon bons.
That night back at La Pitchoune we happily enjoyed the fruits of the day’s cooking classes as our dinner before falling into bed with visions of candied clementines dancing in our heads.
Stay tuned for Postcards from La Pitchoune: Day 2!
The post Postcards from La Pitchoune: Day 1 of The Courageous Cooking School appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
One of our favorite places in the world to visit is France. As you might expect, whenever we go our itinerary pretty much revolves around restaurant reservations and winery visits. Like many of you, we believe there’s simply no better way to discover a country than through it’s food and wine.
I still remember the first time we arrived in Paris. We hurriedly checked into our hotel, dropped off our bags and set off for lunch at the famed Chez Georges, a classic Parisian bistro once frequented by Julia Child herself – swoon!
Stomachs grumbling, ours eyes hungrily scanned the menu of the charming eaterie as we reveled in its authentic ambiance. But there was just one problem. It was a little TOO authentic.
The menu was e n t i r e l y in French AND our waiter didn’t speak a word of English.
While we still managed to enjoy a thoroughly delightful meal, I swore on my Baba au Rhum I’d never be caught unprepared again. Thus began my fervent study of a particular subsection of the French language I like to call Foodie French.
And after years of enjoying and cooking French cuisine, I’m happy to share these 30 French Food Phrases that are guaranteed to up your fluency in Foodie French and help decode any French menu. So whether it’s Blanquette de Veau, Foie Gras de Canard or Saumon Fumé you’ll never go hungry deciding on a French meal again!
Simply scroll down to view the entire list. Each entry includes an English translation as well as some corresponding dishes with translations and/or descriptions as well.
30 French Foodie Phrases
1.) Artichaut : Artichoke, i.e. poulet aux artichauts = chicken with artichokes
2.) Assiette : Assortment, i.e. assiette de fromage = assortment of cheeses
3.) Beurre : Butter, i.e. beurre noisette = browned butter
4.) Boeuf : Beef, i.e. boeuf haché = ground beef or boeuf tartare = raw beef
5.) Canard : Duck, i.e magret de canard = duck breast
6.) Crevettes : Shrimp, i.e. croquettes de crevettes = shrimp croquettes
7.) Croque Monsieur : a French baked or fried ham and cheese sandwich. A Croque Madame is served with a fried egg on top – delicieux!!!
8.) Entrecôte : A cut of steak often used to make Steak Frites
9.) Épinards : Spinach, i.e. épinards à la crème = creamed spinach
10.) Frites : Fries, i.e. steak frites = steak with french fries
11.) Fromage : Cheese, i.e. artichauts farcis au fromage = artichokes stuffed with cheese
12.) Fumé : Smoked, i.e. saumon fumé = smoked salmon
13.) Grenouille : Frog, i.e. cuisses de grenouilles = frog legs
14.) Homard : Lobster, i.e. homard a l’Américaine = lobster cooked with wine, tomatoes, garlic and herbs
15.) Huitres : Oysters, i.e. huîtres fraîcheur aux trois vinaigrettes = fresh oysters with three dressings
16.) Lapin : Rabbit, i.e. lapin à la moutarde = rabbit with Dijon mustard or lapin a la Bourguignonne = rabbit with red wine sauce.
17.) Moules : Mussels, i.e. moules marinières = mussels cooked in a delightful white wine sauce often served with crusty French bread for dipping.
18.) Oeufs : Eggs, i.e. oeufs brouillés = scrambled eggs, oeufs de caille = quail eggs or oeufs en meurette = a delicious Burgundian dish featuring eggs served in a flavorful Bourguignon sauce.
19.) Oignon : Onion
20.) Poisson : Fish
21.) Poivre : Pepper, i.e. steak au poivre = steak with a cracked peppercorn sauce
22.) Porc : Pork, i.e. pork aux champignons = pork with mushrooms
23.) Poulet : Chicken, i.e. poulet rôti au thym = roast chicken with thyme
24.) Rillettes : commonly made from pork or duck, rillettes is a preparation of meat similar to pâté. The meat is cubed or chopped, salted and cooked slowly in fat until it can be easily shredded. It is then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste which is normally spread on bread or toast – HEAVEN!!!
25.) Saumon : Salmon, i.e. saumon en papillote = salmon cooked in parchment paper,
26.) Thon : Tuna, commonly seen in the delicious Pan Bagnat sandwich and the classic Salad Niçoise.
27.) Truite : Trout, i.e. trout meunière amandine = trout with brown butter and almonds
28.) Veau : Veal, i.e. rognon de veau = veal kidney or blanquette de veau = veal stew
29.) Viande : Meat, i.e. viande haché = minced meat
30.) Volaille : Poultry, i.e. creme de volaille = cream of chicken soup
I hope you find this list helpful in mastering Foodie French and if there are any French Food Phrases you think I should add to the list, please let me know in the comments section below.
PS Fellow Francophiles, be sure to bookmark this page for future reference!
The post Up Your “Foodie French” with these 30 French Food Phrases appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
It’s time to bid adieu to the wines of winter and embrace the fresh, fruity flavors of Spring! Here are ten fabulous wines that are sure to please your palate this delightful time of year without breaking the bank: 1.) Badenhorst Secateurs Rosé, Swartland, South Africa, 2015 ($16): This blend of Cinsault, Shiraz, Grenache and Carignan exhibits a delightfully pale... Read More
A few days ago I featured these delicious sparkling wines on WPTV’s Holiday Show but due to time constraints we shortened the segment and I didn’t want you to miss out on these fabulous finds! While these sparklers are indeed perfect for ringing in the New Year, at these price points they are also perfect for enjoying during the week. If you make one vinous... Read More
The post 5 Sparkling Wines for Ringing in & Enjoying Throughout the New Year! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
One of my favorite food and wine pairings during the Summer months is a Tuna Niçoise Salad paired with a dry, Provençal rosé – sheer deliciousness! But why limit the wonderful Niçoise flavors to just one dish? When a friend kindly offered us some fresh swordfish steaks over the weekend, these delicious flavors immediately sprang to mind as we happily accepted his generous offer. Niçoise (pronounced nee-SWAZ) essentially means “in... Read More
The post Perfect Pairings: Swordfish Niçoise & a Provençal Rosé! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.