Lesson 58: Cuisine of Provence, France

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today we learned about the cuisine of Provence.  I loved all of the recipes and really enjoyed the recipe that I worked on.  The first thing we did when we got to class was get the cassoulet from yesterday in the oven.  

Doesn't it look a lot better than yesterday, since it cooked for a few more hours:

This casserole had so much flavor!  The sauce really reduced down and glazed all of the meats.  It was wonderful!

Before I get to the dish that I worked on today, I'll tell you about the other dishes.  First up: "Filets de Sardines en Escabeche".  We fileted, marinated, and seared sardines and served them with an onion, garlic and cayenne saute.

We also made an assortment of Stuffed Provencale Vegetables ("Petits Farcis a la Facon du Vieux Nice).  A couple of people in my group worked on stuffing zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  They were beautiful, simple, and delicious:

The most complicated dish of the day was the Bourride.  This is essentially a seafood soup with a lot of different components.  The guys in the group started off by chopping up fish bones and trimmings for the fish fumet.  The soup was made with mirepoix, fennel, leek, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, orange & lemon rinds, dry vermouth, and some herbs and seasonings.  Right before we served the soup they cooked the clams, snapper fillet, shrimp, squid, and mussels separately in the soup.  The garnishes included an aioli and a rouille spread on croutes:

I made the Tarte aux Blettes.  I started out making a pastry dough with flour, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg, and cold water.  While it cooled in the fridge, I started on the filling.  I trimmed and cleaned a large bunch of swiss chard.  I chiffonaded the chard and added it to some grated gouda cheese, currants plumped in white rum, eggs, red currant jelly, heavy cream, diced apple, and toasted pine nuts.  After blind-baking the dough (partially cooking it without the filling) I added in the filling and baked the tart until it was set (about 45-50 minutes).This tart was truly amazing.  It was a lot sweeter than I thought a swiss chard tart would be, probably because of the sugar in the crust and the sweeter components in the filling.  Send me an e-mail (azick1987@gmail.com) if you'd like the recipe.. I know I'll be making it again!

After class I literally ran to the train station to try and make the 5:03 train.  It's my dad's birthday today and I wanted to make it home early enough to shower before dinner.  My brother called me mid-run, which slowed my pace and caused me to miss my train by less than a minute!!!  That's seriously the worst feeling ever..sprinting to the train station like a maniac and then not even making the train!! Ugh oh well!  

My family went to Portofino Ristorante for dinner.  Although we had a lovely evening, we were all a bit disappointed in this restaurant (which has been a long-time favorite restaurant up until recently).  I will be posting a review tomorrow!


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