Profile in Flavor France Notes
Profiles in Flavor – France
with Chef Christy
Overview: A tour of France’s culinary regions, its geography and cultural influences from neighboring countries that all work to shape French gastronomy, recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”. Discuss the historical roots and popular fads that have left their mark, use exacting skills to create a dessert that is more a work of art, and create one of the “Mother Sauces” to accompany a 6 course menu.
Skills taught: Understanding the Culinary Regions of France
Who were Carême and Escoffier, and what are the Mother Sauces?
Discussion of l’Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), “controlled designation of origin”, the certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products.
Creating a tarte, baking en pappillote, velouté, clear soups, vinaigrette, using herbs de Provence and tarragon as seasonings.
Menu: Hors d’oeuveres – Gallete De Bretagne (buckwheat crepes),
Pan Bagnat (with Salad Niçoise)
Soup – Soupe à l’Ail aux Pommes de Terre (garlic saffron
soup with potatoes and French bread)
Main Course – Pappillote aux deux poissons (Pink and white
fish* with vegetables baked in paper hearts)
Bercy Sauce – fish velouté (light cream sauce)
Salad – Salade de chèvre aux herbes de Provence (mixed
greens with fresh goat cheese and herbs including lavender)
Dessert – Tarte Normande à la Jake! (Apple tart served with
Jake’s Ice Cream)
*Thin-sliced chicken breast or tofu can be substituted here if teacher is notified in advance.
Ingredients: Ingredient list may change due to availability.
Please notify teacher of any food restrictions.
Buckwheat, wheat, green beans, anchovies, olives, olive oil, eggs, garlic, saffron, potatoes, fish, carrots, onions, celery, cream, butter, mixed greens,
vinegar, goat cheese, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses, apples, almonds, apricot glaze.
fish – tilapia or other thin fillets
Fish bones to make stock
white wine vinegar
French Culinary Regions and Foods
Alsace and Lorraine – Rhine wines, fruit liqueurs, cabbage, choucroute (sauerkraut), foie gras (oversized goose or duck liver), pork, geese, river salmon, trout, crayfish, eels, tench, breem, blond beer, green plums, raspberries, cherries, peaches, Munster cheese, quiche, sausages, spaetzle, madeleines, macaroons, stuffed breast of veal, crayfish flan, saddle of hare a lá crème, calf’s liver fritters
Aquitaine: Bordeaux, Perigord, and Charente – Basque cuisine – red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, white wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle, Congac, Armagnac; oysters, mussels, eel, lamb; Charente – wild mushrooms, truffles, butter, free-range chicken, turkey, pigeon, capon, goose, duck. Pates, terrines, confits and magrets. Noted for fois gras. Prunes, Armagnac brandy,
Brittany (Bretagne) – salt, fleur de sel, seafood, oysters, lamb, seaweed, buttermilk, fresh cheese (very little aged cheese), buckwheat crêpes, gâteau Breton. Buckwheat grows widely.
Burgundy(Bourgogne) – currents, crème de cassis (current liqueur); Beef à la bourguignonne; Dijon – mustard, escargots (snails) in garlic butter; pike, perch, river crabs, poultry from Bresse, red currants, black currants, honey cake, Epoisses cheese, Lyon – tripe, sausages, sautéed calves liver . Use of nut oils and rapeseed oil in cooking.
Champagne and Ardennes – grapes, Champagne, Dom Pérignon, herring, waffles, charcuterie: andouillettes (pork sausages made with pork chitterlings), sheep’s trotters, ham, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, and leeks. Hochepot – (the northern version of pot-au-feu, a meat and vegetable stew usually flavored with juniper berries) and carbonnade (a beef stew made with the local beer, mustard, and onions).
Corsica – cheese, Bruccio – fresh goat cheese, meats, deli products, chestnuts, chestnut flour, goats and sheep, pigs fed on island acorns, pork, ham, sausages. stufato, ragouts. Clementines (AOC), lemons, nectarines, limes, figs, candied citron.
Franche-Comté and Savoy – Fondue au fromage and raclette (both made with melted Comté cheese), perch, trout, crayfish, walnuts, au gratin (topped with buttered bread crumbs and/or cheese)
Gascony and the Pays Basque – tuna, sardines, swordfish, dry-cured ham, ‘the birthplace of mayonnaise, pimento, millet, corn, broye or cruchade (cornmeal polenta). Pates, terrines, confits and magrets. Noted for fois gras. Prunes, Armagnac brandy,
Loire Valley (Pays-de-La-Loire) – Loire river salmon, shad, cardoons, shallots, tarragon, fresh grape vinegar Anjou- orchard fruits: prune plums, peaches, pears, cherries, strawberries, melons; Tours- charcuterie (pork products), rillons and rillettes, made with potted goose or pork. Fish served in beurre blanc sauce, wild game, lamb, calves, cattle, fowl, high quality goat cheeses.
Normandy (Normandie) – apples, Calvados (apple brandy), no vineyards or wines, butter, cream, cheese, seafood served in creamy sauces. Wheat, sugar beets, chicory, cauliflower, artichokes.
Poitou-Charente and Limousin – Oysters, mussels, goat cheese, butter, cheese, Cognac, Limousin cattle, sheep, mushrooms.
Provence and Languedoc – garlic, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, citrus fruits, melons, aioli (garlic mayonnaise sauce), bouillabaisse, ratatouille, Coquille St. Jaques (scallops), Pan Bagnat (baguette sandwich with olives & anchovies); Languedoc – cassoulet (beans, spices & =meats), omelets with ham, peppers, & onions, pastis – herbal liqueur flavored with anise and liquorice; Roquefort cheese. Perrier water
Toulouse, Quercy, and Aveyron – poultry, hams, dry sausage. White corn, ducks, geese, fois gras. Haricot beans, cassoulet, truffles, lentils, mushrooms, milk-fed lamb. Unpasteurized ewe’s milk used to produce Roquefort cheese. Mineral waters
Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), which translates as “controlled designation of origin”, is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO). It is based on the concept of terroir.
France has many districts that support foods as varied as grapes, olives, omelets and pork sausage to goose liver, Roquefort cheese, buckwheat crepes and Coquilles St. Jaques.
“…It is expected that even the simplest preparation be undertaken in the most careful manner, which means disregarding the amount of time involved. … Americans love nothing more than combining innovation with timesaving; it is the particular genius of the United States, and it couldn’t be more at odds with the French aesthetic.”
“The French operate with a strong sense that there is an appropriate beverage for every food and occasion. Wine is drunk with the meal, but rarely without food. An aperitif (a light alcoholic beverage…) precedes the meal and a digestif (something more spirited — say, cognac) may follow.”
The French are not afraid of eating anything, organ meats, moldy cheese, snails, and other foods that seem exotic to outsiders that form the basis of everyday French cuisine.
‘Nouvelle cuisine’ avoids the use of heavy cream and butter sauces, using simpler recipes, market-fresh food and emphasizing natural flavors and textures.
From: “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Child, Bertholle, Beck 1966
3 cups cold, blanched, green beans
3 or 4 quartered tomatoes
1 cup vinaigrette dressing
1 head Boston Lettuce
3 cups cold French potato salad
1 cup canned tuna chunks, drained
½ cup pitted black olives, preferably the dry Mediterranean type
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, cold, peeled and quartered
6 to 12 canned anchovy fillets, drained
2 to 3 Tbsp. minced, fresh green herbs
Just before serving, season the beans and tomatoes with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette. Toss the lettuce leaves in a salad bowl with ¼ cup of vinaigrette, then place the leaves around the edge of the bowl. Arrange the potatoes in the bottom of the bowl. Decorate with the beans and tomatoes, interspersing them with a design of tuna chunks, olives, eggs, and anchovies. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad, sprinkle with herbs and serve.
Serves 6 to 8
a sandwich that is a specialty of the region of Nice, France. The sandwich is composed of a circle formed white bread around the classic Salade Niçoise.
BUCKWHEAT FLOUR CRêPES (Galettes)
For approximately fifteen galettes:
3 cups buckwheat flour
1 TBSP coarse sea salt
4 cups cold water
Preparing the batter:
Mix the buckwheat flour and the coarse sea salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and break the egg into it. Start mixing the batter with a wooden spoon and gradually blend in the water until the batter is smooth and fluid.
BE CAREFUL! The batter must not be too thin.
If there are flour lumps, you can beat the batter with a whisk (max. 15 seconds). Let it rest for at least 6 hours in your fridge, but not more than 24 hours.
When using the batter, stir it firmly between each galette.
You can increase the buckwheat taste of the galettes by adding rye flour or tone it down with whole wheat flour. In any case, respect the total amount of flour by reducing the equivalent amount of buckwheat flour accordingly (maximum substitution 30%). If you cannot eat eggs, you can also remove them from the recipe. It still works!
Making the galettes:
Grease the griddle (you can also use a thick bottom cast iron frying pan with a low rim) with butter, bacon fat, goose fat or palm grease to prevent the galette from sticking to it. When the griddle, is really hot, ladle as much batter as is necessary to cover the griddle and spread the batter swiftly with the help of a wooden spreader. If you don´t use a griddle, after pouring the batter in the pan, quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread the batter all over the bottom of the pan.
Cook for 2 -2 ½ minutes over medium heat. Lift the edges with a spatula and if the underside is nicely brown, the galette is ready for turning delicately. Turn the galette over. Butter it by putting little bits of butter on its upper side. It is now ready for filling.
If you plan to have a galette party, we would recommend that you prepare the galettes and the fillings some time in advance to avoid being overwhelmed at the last moment. ln this case, do not cook the galettes for too long. This way they will not harden and/or break apart, when you reheat them. Reheat over medium heat and add some butter before filling them.
Soupe à l’Ail aux Pommes de Terre
(garlic saffron soup with potatoes and French bread)
From: “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Child, Bertholle, Beck 1966
1 separated head or about 16 cloves of whole, unpeeled garlic
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
¼ tsp sage
¼ tsp thyme
½ bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 cups diced “boiling potatoes”
Pinch of saffron
Drop the garlic cloves in boiling water and boil 30 seconds. Drain, run cold water over them, and peel.
Place the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and boil slowly for 30 minutes. Correct seasoning. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan.
Simmer the potatoes in the soup with the saffron for about 20 minutes or until tender. Correct seasoning. Serve with French bread and grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese.
1 pint fish velouté
¼ cup white wine
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp butter
Lemon juice, to taste
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the wine and shallots. Heat until the liquid boils, lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half.
Add the velouté, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the butter and chopped parsley. Season to taste with lemon juice and serve right away.
Makes about 1 pint of Bercy Sauce.
6 cups fish stock
2 Tbsp clarified butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Heat the fish stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.
Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the clarified butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy. Don’t let it turn brown, though — that’ll affect the flavor.
With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.
Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot fish stock to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps.
Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about one-third, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan. Use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.
The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more hot stock until it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the sauce from the heat. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
Keep the velouté covered until you’re ready to use it.
Makes about 1 quart of fish velouté sauce.
Tarte Normande à la Jake!
(Apple tart served with Jake’s Ice Cream)
From: “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Child, Bertholle, Beck 1966
A 10-inch partially cooked pastry shell (Sweet Short Paste Recipe)
4 lbs. crisp cooking or eating apples
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tb granulated sugar
A 2-quart mixing bowl
A 10-inch heavy bottomed pan: enameled saucepan, skillet or casserole
A wooden spoon
1/3 cup apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
¼ cup Calvados (apple brandy), rum or cognac; or 1 Tb vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tb butter
Optional: ½ tsp cinnamon, and/or the grated rind of 1 lemon or orange
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Quarter, core and peel the apples. Cut enough to make 3 cups into even 1/8-inch lengthwise slices and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and sugar.
Reserve them for the top of the tart.
Cut the rest of the apples into rough slices. You should have about 8 cups. Place in the pan and cook, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Then beat in the apricot preserves, brandy, sugar, and butter, plus any optional seasonings you wish. Raise heat and boil, stirring, until applesauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon.
Spread the applesauce in the pastry shell. Cover with a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in a spiral, concentric circles.
Bake in upper third of preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the sliced apples have browned lightly and are tender. Slide tart onto the rack or serving dish and spoon or paint over it a light coating of apricot glaze. Serve warm or cold, and pass it with a dish of cream, or serve à la mode with a scoop of Jake’s Ice Cream!
Sweet Short Paste
For an 8-9 inch pie shell, amounts for 1 cup
For a 10-11 inch shell, amounts for 2 cups
Proportions for 1 cup flour
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) sifted all purpose flour
A mixing bowl
1 Tb granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 ½ Tb fat: 4 Tb chilled butter and 1 ½ Tb chilled vegetable shortening
2 ½ to 3 Tb cold water
Place the flour in the bowl, mix the sugar and salt. Add the fat to the mixing bowl.
Rub the flour and fat together rapidly between the tips of your fingers until the fat is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes. Do not overdo this step as the fat will be blended more thoroughly later.
Add the water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. Sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon more water by droplets over any unmassed remains and add them to the main body of the dough. Then press the dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable, but not be damp and sticky.
Place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board. With the heel of one hand, not the palm which is to warm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour, or fraisage.
With a scraper and a spatula, gather the dough again into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap it in waxed paper. Either place it in the freezer for about 1 hour until the dough is firm but not congealed, or leave it for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Roll out the dough as quickly as possible.