food for thought

by michelle

cooking class in Provence

with 2 comments

While in Provence, I took the opportunity to participate in a hands-on cooking class with chef Jean-Marc Villard at his French Cooking School. After shopping for local and organic ingredients, we returned to the specially designed teaching kitchen, where Jean-Marc guided us in preparing and cooking a traditional French meal which we later enjoyed on the terrace with the chef and his wife Alice.

zucchini-flowers-cut

We started with 2 amusebouches, a small appetiser of one or two bites which is normally selected by the chef and served before the first course, both to whet the appetite and to give a glimpse of the chef’s approach to cuisine. Our first was deep-fried zucchini flowers. These were dredged in a simple tempura batter, deep-fried in grapeseed oil and served with a fresh pesto.

fried-zucchini-flowers

 

 

The second was a fresh sardine escabeche.

sardine-escabeche

 

 

 

 

 

Sardine fillets were laid in a flat dish (skin side down) and seasoned. Onions, garlic, carrots and peppers were sautéed in olive oil, seasoned and spread over the sardines. Finally a slightly reduced mixture of white wine, vinegar and water was poured over everything to cook the sardines. It was served garnished with fresh dill.

zucchini-saladFor the first course we started by preparing a zucchini (courgette) salad. We cut the zucchinis in half and used a mandolin to cut thin strips lengthwise. To this we added pink peppercorns (which are particularly sweet here in France), grated lemon rind, dill, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. After mixing thoroughly we set this aside in a colander. Meanwhile, the sauce was on the stove. Vanilla pods were added to some chicken stock which was then reduced by half. Be careful not to use salty chicken stock as it will become too salty when reduced. To the reduced stock we added as much butter as there was stock and a little finely chopped candied lemon rind. The sauce was then aerated using a wand mixer. Next we prepared fresh prawns (shrimp) which we seasoned and quickly pan-fried. To assemble the dish we placed some of the zucchini salad in a form ring, followed by some mixed salad leaves. The ring was removed, the prawns arranged around the salads and the sauce carefully poured around the edges without wilting the salad leaves.

prawns-and-zucchini-salad-with-vanilla-butter-sauce

For the main course, saddle of lamb. This was boned and rolled, seared on the stovetop and finished in the oven along with some fresh garlic cloves (skin on). Of course, the sauce was also reducing on the stove, this time a veal stock with fresh sage leaves.

eggplant-fillingTo accompany the lamb we stuffed large cherry tomatoes. After cutting the tops off the tomatoes and carefully scooping out the flesh and seeds, we seasoned them with salt and placed them upside down on the board, allowing any liquid to drain. The eggplants (aubergines) were cut in half lengthwise and baked (skin side up) until soft. stuffed-cherry-tomatoesIn a saucepan we sautéed very finely chopped shallots and garlic then added the chopped eggplant pulp, some finely chopped rosemary, chopped parsley, a little chickpea flour to bind and salt and pepper. We then filled the tomatoes and put the lids back on for roasting.

potato-galette-with-goat's-cheeseWe also made a typically French accompaniment, a potato galette – this one with a goat’s cheese centre. The peeled potatoes were cut into thin slices with a mandolin and placed in a bowl with melted butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper. After mixing well, making sure that every piece of potato was buttered and seasoned, we arranged 2 layers of slices around central discs, then a generous amount of goat’s cheese, followed by one more layer of potato. We then cut the edges off with a cookie cutter and transferred them to a baking sheet and into a hot oven until golden brown. Finally, the plating and voilà!

lamb-main-course

Stay tuned for dessert….

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2 Responses

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  1. […] my last post I detailed 2 amuse–bouches, a first course and main course I learnt at Jean-Marc […]

  2. Looks and sounds incredible, Michelle!!

    danebortko

    July 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm


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