food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘travel

dolsot bibimbap

with 2 comments

I think this might be my favourite Korean dish.

Bibimbap literally means mixed rice and this variation is served in a very hot (dolsot) stone bowl. Usually made of granite, the bowl is so hot that anything that touches it sizzles for minutes. Before the rice is added, the bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil making the rice cook to a crisp, golden brown. Sliced beef and vegetables are common additions and there is often a raw or fried egg on top.

It’s always served with gojuchang (a savoury, sweet and spicy fermented chilli paste) and stirred together thoroughly just before eating. Expect some kimchi and other accompaniments too.


Written by michelle picker

June 26, 2017 at 6:03 am

Posted in travel

Tagged with , , ,

korean bbq

leave a comment »

I’m making sure I try everything Korean while I’m visiting Seoul. Gogigui (Korean barbecue) refers to the method of cooking meat. The meal is prepared at the diner’s table on gas or charcoal grills. The most representative form is bulgogi which is made from thinly sliced marinated beef. Galbi (beef short ribs) are also popular.

We decided to try bulgogi and pork shoulder as well as a platter of vegetables.

The bulgogi was cooked with onions and a few sweet potato noodles on the copper dish behind the charcoal barbecue. After cooking it was served in the liquid around the edge. Like all Korean meals there were numerous side dishes including steamed egg, kimchi, pickled mushrooms, pickled shiso (parilla) leaf, lettuce salad with black sesame dressing, lettuce and shiso leaves, fresh garlic, chilli paste, fresh tofu and a spicy shredded leek salad.

Written by michelle picker

June 8, 2017 at 5:49 am

cooking class in Provence part 2

with one comment

In my last post I detailed 2 amusebouches, a first course and main course I learnt at Jean-Marc Villard’s hands-on French Cooking School. Now for the dessert, a strawberry frangipane tart.

tart-shellsThe pastry was a very short shortcrust, easy to cut, firm enough not to break and wonderfully crumbly. This was made from 200g (7 oz) of plain flour, 130g (½ oz) of butter, 60g (2.1 oz) of powdered sugar, some grated lemon rind and 1 egg yolk. After resting the dough, we rolled it and cut circles for our individual tarts, carefully pressing them into ring moulds and pricking with a fork.


For the filling, a frangipane cream made by combining 50g (1¾ oz) each of softened butter, powdered sugar and almond meal. After making a paste we added 1 whole egg and mixed in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. We piped a small amount into each tart shell and baked until golden brown.

strawberry-jamWhen they were cooked and cooled, we spread a little strawberry jam onto each tart shell and arranged fresh strawberries on top.

strawberry-tartsFinally, we made a glaze by heating strawberry jam and water. This was painted onto each tart.





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.


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.




The second was a fresh 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.


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!


Stay tuned for dessert….

fine dining and tomatoes

with one comment

christian-etienneProvence has the most sunshine in France which is probably why the tomatoes here are so abundant and fragrant. When I dined at Christian Etienne, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Avignon, I was excited to see a 7-course tomato menu.

Unfortunately, in my excitement, I failed to photograph the first course, a ceviche of smoked mackerel with a Black Russian tomato sauce and puffed corn. Delicious!

Next, a trio of tartare of tomatoes with basil. The yellow one made with pineapple tomatoes, the red with Beefheart tomatoes and the green with Green Zebra tomatoes. Amazing flavour.


The third course was a wonderfully prepared fillet of red mullet over an olive and coconut brandade, with cream of salted garlic, tomato foam and cherry tomatoes. I suspect the garnish might have been sprouted black onion seeds.


Next, what was called a tomalafel. This was a wonderfully crisp tomato felafel served with a sauce of olive oil, lemon and fresh mint and yes, tomatoes!


The meat course was a perfectly cooked cutlet of local lamb with an amazing jus. It was served on a tomato concasse and with an eggplant caviar and parmesan crumble.


The sixth course which (in my haste) I once again failed to photograph, was a lovely fresh chèvre (goats cheese) from the Drôme region, served with chives and Andes Horn tomato crackers.

And finally, dessert. A Pomme d’Amour (Love Apple) cooked in sugar syrup and served on a pistachio mousse with crispy puffed rice and a tomato coulis……

Pomme-d'Amouraccompanied by a Marmande tomato sorbet and caramelised pistachios.