Saturday, August 27, 2011

Survival of the Fittest??

A few weeks ago I had a guest at  Cuisine de Provence wearing this Tshirt. What do you think he was trying to tell me???? 
Just in case you are wondering: He survived the class...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to make Whipped Cream in France

This morning, Kirsty and Richard came to cook at Cuisine de Provence and we came to talking about her aunt who finds it absolutely impossible to find a cream in France that transforms into whipped cream. I would like to dedicate this post to Kirsty's aunt who lives in Dordogne, although this is a problem not only Kirsty's aunt, but lots of other expats have long been fighting with. France - the land of milk and creams - but did you ever try to make a somewhat decent whipped cream here? I went through years of frustrating results until, by trial and error, I found this:

This, dear reader, is the one and only cream in France that gives you real good, oldfashioned whipped cream! And if Super U ever decides not to sell it anymore I might just contemplate to - no, not to leave France, but probably to never eat whipped cream again....
And just so you know what you have to look for, here is the bottle in all it's glory:

So now dear expats, no more excuse to use the frankly revolting cream from spray cans: go and have yourself a real lovely whipped cream feast! And greetings to Kirsty's aunt in Dordogne!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Limoncello Icecream Wedges - Beautiful Summer Dessert

Limoncello Gelato
Doesn't it drive you just crazy when you try to prepare a recipe for the first time and halfway through realize that you are a victim of sloppy editing? There is either an ingredient missing, they got the timing wrong or, worst of all - as in this case - something is labelled "Really, really easy - just put it in the freezer and forget about it" and, it turns out is it SO NOT.
This Limoncello Icecream is a recipe from the British Cooking magazine "Olive", ripped out from their "Eat in - Show off" section. Not only do I love Limoncello, but who doesn't love a recipe that claims to be easy and has show off appeal?
Well, it starts easy enough:
Take 3 really ripe, organic lemons. Finely grate their skin off, then juice them. Mix zest and juice with 170 g of icing (confectioner's) sugar and let infuse for about 30 minutes. I added the zest and juice of one lime to make it more interesting and reduced the original amount of sugar (190g) to 170 g.
Hopefully you always store your Limoncello in the freezer, because you  then need to whip 450 ml of double cream with 3 tbsp of ice cold Limoncello into a soft chantilly (whipped cream). Stir in the lemon juice and sugar mixture, pour into a tub and freeze. So easy, so good.
But then, the next day or so, you need another 3 big fat and juicy lemons (no mention of those in the recipe). Cut them in halves lengthwise, get rid of their flesh (I found this works best with a metal ice cream scoop), let the frozen ice cream thaw just a bit and fill the lemon halves tightly with ice cream. Wrap individually in cling film (plastic wrap) and refreeze.
Just before serving then comes the real hard part: Where the Olive recipe breezily suggests: "Cut in half again lengthways on serving" there you stand in the kitchen, sweating and swearing under your breath and trying to saw the bloody icecold, slippery halves into halves. Trust me, the only thing that works is a sturdy serrated bread knife that you dip in real hot water every five seconds.
Truth is: It looks great and tastes even better, but easy? Easy it ain't!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Milk fresh from the Station

In Provence it does not seem strange to us to go and get our daily wine like you would get gas at a gas station. But I had never seen a "milk station" before. Until yesterday that is. We were driving through the Drome, from Hauterives to Valence when, passing through the tiny village of Tersanne, I saw this sign:

So we stopped and explored. For passerby's like us there was even the possibility to buy milk bottles for 0.30 € - the lucky neighbors probably bring their own recipients. 

Then you pay another 0.80 € per liter, press a button and get the freshest, non pasteurized, non skimmed non whatever else they do to milk these days fresh from the cow milk.

Since I couldn't work out how to get hold of the bottle I had to ring the bell and got to meet Véronique who told me that it wouldn't have hurt to read the instructions (sorry!) and that her husband, the farmer has been drinking this milk for more than 40 years. I tried it this morning and reader: it is delicious! And there was even a little deposit of real cream on top! Too bad that we would have to drive more than an hour to get milk this delicious on a regular basis!

Véronique, the farmer's wife

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pepperonata Provençale de Marie-Jo

Time flies! Almost two weeks ago I promised to post about a delicious dish I had the good fortune to first taste at my neighbor's house and which I have since served a couple of times. The ingredients - red peppers and juicy, really ripe tomatoes are ripening in my kitchen garden faster than I can think of what to do with them and since Marie-Jo's "Pepperonata Provençale" is as easy to prepare as it is delicious, here we go:

Take three real ripe red peppers, clean them and slice very finely.

Peel and core four or five tomatoes and chop them

In a large pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil, add the peppers and tomatoes and let simmer on moderate heat, stirring every once in a while. At first, keep the lid on, after about 15 minutes or so when the peppers are tender, take off the lid, add a pinch or two of sugar and let all moisture evaporate. Season to taste with salt (I use Fleur de Sel) and pepper fresh from the mill. Can be eaten warm or cold - at room temperature that is - as a side dish or as meze with crusty bread.

Delicious warm or cold: Pepperonata Provençale