Oven Baked Camembert with a Nectarine, Pomegranate and thyme salsa

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Ingredients:

  • 1 camembert
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 2 nectarine
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 200 degrees celsius.
  • Place Camembert on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 14 minutes
  • Dice the nectarines, seed the pomegranate and pick the thyme, then mix them together with a touch of cherry vinegar.
  • Serve with a Chateau Mazerolles Benoit Cote de Blaye, available at www.airoldifinewines.com.au
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Oysters with a Citrus and Champagne Granité.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Dozen Oyster
  • 2 Blood Orange
  • 1 Pink Grapefruit
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Orange
  • 20 g Brown Sugar

 

Method:

  • Juice the Fruits and mix in the brown sugar.
  • Pour the juice in a shallow tray and place in the freeze
  • When it starts to freeze, stir the juice to create crystals.
  • Once frozen, scrap the granité with a fork and spoon it on top of the oysters.
  • Serve straight away with a glass of Champagne Le Brun de Neuville, available at www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

Preserved Lemon

 

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Canning food in glass was stumbled upon by Frenchman and confectioner, Nicolas Appert in the 1790’s. It’s a great way to capitalise on seasonal produce when it’s at its best and the process ensures that whatever your preserving remains fresh and sterile for months.

Although the zesty flavours of citrus fruits are reminiscent of summer, they are in fact winter fruits and are at their juiciest and sweetest in the colder months. I’m lucky enough to have a well-established lemon tree in my garden and as much as I enjoy incorporating fresh lemon into my winter dishes and drinks, there are just too many on the tree to consume! This is where preserving comes in handy.

Preserved lemon is nothing new; it’s a popular ingredient in Northern African cuisine like the tagine’s of Morocco and Cambodian cuisine too.

Preserved lemon has a secondary benefit as well – it makes great gifts!

 

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Ingredients:

  • Rock salt
  • Caster sugar
  • Fresh Bay leaves
  • Lemons
  • Boiling water
  • Pint size jar with screw lids

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Method:

  1. Wash and dry the jars well and wash the lemons.
  2. Put the kettle on to boil the water, you’ll need enough to fill up each jar about half way.
  3. Cut a little bit of both end of the lemons and then cut in quarters but not all the way down, just to about ¾ so they still hold together.
  4. Sprinkle the salt and sugar inside each lemon and put them in the jar cut side down, sprinkle a bit more salt between each lemon.
  5. Press the lemons down to release the juice, the lemon juice should fill half the jar. If you don’t have enough juice you can squeeze in some more, but don’t waste the lemon you can add it with the others!
  6. Put 3-4 fresh bay leaves in the jar and top up with boiling water. Screw the lid on straight away. The tip them upside down to mix the salt and sugar with the liquid. You’ll to repeat that process for the first three days.
  7. Leave the preserved lemons to rest in the fridge or a cool cupboard for at least 4 weeks before using.

Watch the how to video below or visit my Youtube channel  here for more

France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 2)

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 2)

There’s so much so say about this department of France that I simply couldn’t squeeze it all into one installment. If you’re not the market faring kind but want to sample the Dordogne’s bounty of famous produce, then visiting one of its countless restaurants is a must.

By no means do you need to dine in the most fancy establishments to eat well either, as when the produce is local and seasonal even the more humble restaurants can serve a quality meal without breaking your budget.

That being said, if you are in the Trémolat area and can justify treating yourself to a Michelin star meal (you only live once!), then I highly, highly recommend you making a booking at Le Vieux Logis. A boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant belonging to the acclaimed Relais-Châteaux group, you can enjoy a degustation dinner with matching wine for €115 or there’s an à la carte menu to choose from. The food is beautifully presented and tastes exquisite, and the service is faultless but personable.

20150502_200831   Confit Salmon in walnut oil

20150502_201833Green asparagus topped with Crab and Fennel

20150502_211922Quercy lamb with broad beans, “ail des ours”  and Pistou

20150502_204921Grilled Turbo, oyster “Meunière” and Foie Gras

20150502_222644“Gariguettes” strawberries, meringue and violette chantilly

20150502_225029Amuse Bouche with our coffees

As delicious as the dining is at Le Vieux Logis, my favourite place to eat in the Dordogne doesn’t have a Michelin star, nor is it fine dining. It’s a rustic, family run restaurant in the charming town of Cadouin, called Le Restaurant de L’Abbaye, and I know the food is great because this happens to be where I completed my cooking apprenticeship! Every meal starts with their house specialty Tourin à l’ail (garlic soup), their menu is full of country classics like magret de canard, foie gras, and salade perigourdine and their mousse au chocolat is a guilty pleasure I treat myself to every time I visit. If you’re travelling in the summer months, a booking is essential.

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As a special treat, the head chef of the Restaurant de L’Abbaye has kindly agreed to share the recipes for both his garlic soup and chocolate mousse. Look out for them on the blog in the coming days!

My top Dordogne picks:

  • Le Vieux Logis -Le Bourg 24510 Trémolat 1 Michelin star
  • Restaurant de L’Abbaye – Place de L’Abbaye 24480 Cadouin
  • Chez Julien 24510 Paunat
  • Chez le Gaulois 9 rue Tourny 24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda

France Culinary Travel Diary – First stop: Aix-en-Provence

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – First stop: Aix-en-Provence

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First stop is the medieval town of Aix-en-Provence, in France’s South, slightly North of Marseille. It’s only April so the town is still a little sleeply, coming out of its winter hiatus, prepping for the tsunami of tourists that will flood Provence during the summer months.

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The main drag, Cours Mirabeau, is 100% geared for these visitors, with Paris-style bistrots and Irish pubs overlooking the fountains and designer stores. They’re great for aperitif and people watching and our favourite was Bar Le Grillon. But, it’s the back streets that were far more interesting food wise and also where the Saturday markets are held. This is what I missed most about France and Aix did not disappoint!

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It was a slightly drizzly morning when the Madame and I stepped onto the sandstone pavement, bright eyed at 7am thanks to some residual jetlag. We followed the locals as they weaved their way through narrow alleys and lanes, until we were warmly greeted by stalls upon stalls of the freshest and brightest looking vegetables, meats, fruits and flowers, protected from the weather by a canopy of elm trees.

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I bought a fresh punnet of strawberries, a saucisson de Taureau and some Herbes de Provence, but if I’d had a little kitchen I would have gladly bought some Tomates de Marmande which were vibrant red and as big as two fists, fresh oysters and Homard Bretons (lobster) and about as much cheese as my nose could handle. The Madame on the other hand, would have happily spent all our Euros on bunches of peonies, despite not having anywhere to put them but in the back seat of our hire car…

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It was also on the corner of this market square where I discovered a little coffee shop that made a mean short black but also sold coffee beans, which they ground fresh to order, from around the world, including Australia! The Madame’s latté left her wanting as it looked more like a ‘froth-a-cino’ on steroids but neither of us could fault the quality of the shot.

 

I noticed a huge Italian influence (or is that tourist influence, not sure which?!) food-wise with every second restaurant seemingly a pizzeria. We found a great one though, simply called “Le Pizza”, where the ingredients were super fresh, top quality and well priced.

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The culinary specialty of Provence is the Callison, a small almond biscuit that is made in many flavours, but always almond shaped. They aren’t cheap, but they are delicious and there are two famous stores to buy them at. Le Calisson du roi René and patisserie Béchard.

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Next stop is Montpellier by way of Marseille. If you have any must visit places, I’d love you to share them with me!

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My Aix-en-Provence Picks:

  • Café Le Grillon – 49 Cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Le Brûlerie – 1 Place Richelme 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • La Pizza – 3 rue Aude 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Farmers & Flowers Markets – Place de l’Hotel de Ville 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Callisons de Roy René – 13 rue Gaston de Saporta 13100 Aix-en-Provence
  • Pâtisserie Béchard 12 Cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix-en-provence

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Dinner “à la Française”: Part 3

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Classic Bûche de Noël

Ingredients for the Génoise (sponge):

  •  4 eggs
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain flour

Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (392 F ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until it triple in size. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the flour. Slowly fold in the flour with the egg/sugar mix using a rubber spatula. Make sure you scrape the side and bottom of the bowl and that all the flour is mixed through.
  4. Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and evenly spread the mixture on the tray.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden on top. Once cooked put the sponge on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

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Ingredient for the “ Crème au Beurre” (butter cream):

  •  4 egg whites
  • 130 ml water
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 440 unsalted butter

Method:

  1.  Put the sugar and water in a medium size saucepan and cook to 118 degrees Celsius (244.4 F).
  2. Start whisking the white on medium speed when the sugar reaches 110 degrees Celsius (230 F). When the sugar is ready, slowly poor it over the white and whisk on high speed until cooled down (almost room temperature).
  3. Add the butter little bit a the time while whisking, make sure the meringue has cooled down enough before you add the butter, otherwise it will split and turn into a soup!
  4. Once you’ve added the butter, whisk for a couple of minutes and keep aside.

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For the sugar syrup:

  •  200 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 ml rum

Method:

  1. Bring the sugar, water and rum to the boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Place the sponge on the bench. Using a pastry brush slightly wet the sponge with the sugar syrup.
  3. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre”. Sprinkle shaved coconut and finely grated white chocolate on top. Roll the sponge on itself, make sure you roll it tightly to avoid it from collapsing later on!
  4. Cut a piece of cardboard half the width of the “Bûche”, wrap it in foil and place it under the Christmas cake.
  5. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre” on top and around the sponge.
  6. Take the Bûche out of the fridge 30 minutes before dessert time!

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With this delicious Christmas dessert I recommend a chateau Chateau “Coutet” Sauternes-Barsac 2006 available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au