September 30, 2007

Authentic French Recipes for Winter Cooking Classes

Cassoulet, Poulet Henri IV, duck confit, foie gras au torchon, something w/truffles, wine and armagnac, garlic soup, radish leaf soup, pork belly and lentilles- a petit salé, leek braised, savoury pastries- mushroom and leek tarte, duck breast with wine sauce, guinea hen in armagnac & rosemary sauce, lapin aux pruneaux,

navarin d’Agneau, paupiette de veau, daube de boeuf a la gasconne, salmon with sauce orientale , poule verte, gratin de pommes de terre, purée soufflé, onion confiture, celeri root puree ,green beans a la campagne, tarte aux pommes,
fondante chocolate, creme brulee, sabayon, clafoutis, Pruneaux d’Agen,

hazelnut vinaigrette, etc.

Just some of the delicious french dishes coming your way this winter. Let's begin with that exemplary Cassoulet cooked in a wood-fired oven with Judy Witts in Tuscany. First, we plant the beans.

to be continued...

September 25, 2007

Barbeque French Style- pork ribs & roast with fig sauce

When house guests arrive at the 'Relais de Camont', this cook takes a break!

Rhoda, Caroline, Julie, Jim and the two Bob's arrived for a two week holiday in Southwest France and being the smart cookie that I am, I let them do the cooking!

However, not being a gambler at heart, I left a few hints around my French Kitchen:

  1. a map to the giant Sunday farmer's market at Agen and

  2. a big jar of my special figgy bbq sauce.

Remember that Big Fig tree? well this post is for Joanna who has got me curious about how to grow a thousand-year-old hedge... and for Ivonne hosting SHF #35 at

Figgy French BBQ Sauce served over pork ribs and pork roast

  • 2 lbs/1 kilo of fresh figs cut in pieces

  • 1 cup strong vinegar (I use my homemade red wine vinegar)

  • 2 cups sugar (white, brown, raw...)

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed

  • 2 whole piment d'espelette or other chili peppers (depending on your fire power)

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • salt to taste

Cook over a low heat, nice and slow until it starts to melt and burble. Cook as long as you can stand it- 1, 2, 3 hours adding more liquid as necessary to keep a thin paste/thick sauce consistancy. I actually am cooking a batch for the third day in a row... just to see how caramelized I can get the figs without burning them! I keep adding more vinegar and wine- why not?

Ok, that's the you can add herbs, spices, condiments and other vegetables (tomatoes are a natural) as you like your bbq sauce-- hot, sweet, spicy, mild, thick or thin. Each batch I make is different. That southern girl cooking in Paris, Meredith Breen, started this recipe a couple summers ago and it has become a French Kitchen speciality. Thanks MB!

September 22, 2007

A very happy Kris Moore acting as the kitchen bride...
This is a portrait of the most tender head of organic lettuce I ever met!

This green bridal bouquet is from Francoise at the Lavardac market, just harvested that morning and so fragile we carried it like a posy of exquisite flowers until we got back home.

Barely washed and I gently cut the core into 4,
then draped the tender greens on a bowl, drizzled a tablespoon of oil,
a sprinkle of salt and just a mist of vinaigre de Banyuls for a finish.

Oh, yeah. Add that little perfect stuffed tomato to make a september lunch starter.

Lunch at the French Kitchen at Camont

Photos by Wil Edwards...that 'cheese guy' at

September 21, 2007

Mushroom shopping in France

my share for Bacon's help...

and after.
It's not always this easy to shop local, but with 'the Bacon' helping a neighbor, I reap a breakfast bowl full of flat-capped peupliers. Saute in duck fat until slightly brown, crack two farm fresh eggs over the top, stir and enjoy. Some recipes are just this simple. Good food and a hot pan. Cooking in Southwest France.

September 17, 2007

Eating Local-

Tied to the earth with inch-thick ropes
my steel cocoon
is a floating kitchen tethered to
an old poplar tree stump.
This week's eating local tribute to the stump.
Yeah! Mushrooms!

September 14, 2007

Vintage ’47

It was a good year according to Wikipedia

While the Kon Tiki was cruising across the Pacific to Raroia,
one of the first digital computers was turned on after a much needed memory boost.
Then Edwin Land gave us the Polaroid camera and the USA gave France a military base in Casablanca. The USS Newport News,
the first air-conditioned naval ship, is launched from Newport News, Virginia and across the world Seaman Harold Dahl claims to have seen six UFOs near Maury Island. The next morning Dahl reports the first modern ‘
Men in Black’ encounter. And if that wasn’t enough, a downed UFO is allegedly found in the Roswell UFO incident, written about by Stanton Friedman.

U.S. President Harry Truman creates the CIA providing us with enough cold war spy novel materials for a lifetime while the first Edinburgh International Festival begins, with a post-war mission to 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’- the beginning of the summer of love? Back in France, when the government lowers the bread ration to 200 grams, it causes riots but American test pilot Captain Chuck Yeager flies a Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound. Bread and speed.
The Princess Bride Elizabeth marries the Duke of Edinburgh at in London and Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire opens on Broadway. and While King Michael of Rumania abdicates, in a cave in and around the Wadi Qumran several tall pottery jars containing leather scrolls are discovered, which later became known as the Dead Sea scrolls.

1947: All these guys and gals were born- David Bowie, Warren Zevon and Dr. Laura, Farrah Fawcett, Rob Reiner, Carole Bayer Sager, Billy Crystal, and Ry Cooder. Elton John and Kiki Dee were born so they could make a song 29 years later. And then Emmylou Harris, Tom Clancy, David Letterman, Iggy Pop, Salman Rushdie, Dave Barry, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Meat loaf, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and Ted Danson joined the crowd. Not necessarily in that order.

1947 presents to give...
There are a wealth of vintage 47 items for sale on e-bay. But nothing I could afford that I liked. or vice versus. It was either the
vintage nude girl oil painting... or that great Omega watch that I would buy for you, if I had the bucks. I'd hold out for the watch.

But best of all was the weather reported from Europe in 1947 as related to the grape harvests and ensuing vintages…

1947 Vintage Report Ref: 1947 Bordeaux had perfect weather conditions and produced an outstanding vintage. It was very good for Red Burgundy and outstanding for White Burgundy. It was a very good vintage in the North and South of the Cote du Rhone. In Portugal, perfect weather conditions led to an outstanding vintage for port.

Ditto down here in Gascony as some of the finest armagnac was made that year. Still not sure exactly what makes armagnac...

So as I thought back to that vintage bottle of 1947 armagnac that you and I, and a few lucky souls, drank ten years ago. I paid a visit to armagnac magician and distiller Guy Arrouy with visiting friends- Jackie, Ed, David, Roberta, K.C. and Peter. I picked up a bottle of his best—a 1973 vintage Vieil Armagnac. It’s good, very very good.

Oh, don’t worry there is another unopened bottle.

Keep your eye out for those good vintages. Good wine years come around a few times every decade, but 1947 was a lifetime exception. On September 14 1947, Jeffery Michael Hill was born. Best Brother, Loving Son, Great-Pa, Sweet Jeffy and Good Friend to many.

Bon Anniversaire, mon cher frère! Sister Kate

September 10, 2007

Figger it out…

Blog me a fig... for SHF # Thirty-Five hosted by Ivonne at

What to do with a too Big Fig tree.

My first experience with a fig tree was in Italy—in a pre-Francis Maye’s Cortona. I lived on the side of a hill called Tecognano that looked over the still sleeping Bramasole and Cortona’s Etruscan wall silhouette. This first love was a willowy, upward lifting fig tree that grew on the edge of the gravel path I took each day. I’d pluck a pale green fruit, open it to admire the rosy-seeded flesh, and then… plop it in my mouth and walk on. By the time I had chewed, savored and swallowed, I’d be twenty feet away. Each time I’d stop, turn back and pick a few more figs for my walk. One was never enough.

Moving to France a few years later, I planted the first of my own fig trees here at Camont--a twiggy sapling gift from my Italian neighbors, the Sabadini’s (one more thing to be grateful for… Merci!). This is that tree. It grew and grew and grew until now it shelters a colony of song birds, shades the beehive wood oven, and gives a seemingly limitless supply of violet-tinged, super sweet, green figs.

The first figs that ripen at the very end of August are fat as tomatoes. They are piled in an old cassoulet bowl on the terrace table and eaten by passing hands. The next batch comes in dozens and I start to scramble to pick them before they litter the ground and attract the sweet eating yellowjackets. It is a losing battle and one I gladly concede to the nasty beasts. But before I give in, I have gathered dozens of dozens pale pink fleshed figs to cook.

poached figs
fig jam
fig ice cream
fig vinegar
pancetta-wrapped, goat’s cheese-stuffed grilled figs
figs and walnut paste
fig tart
fig chutney
figgy bbq sauce… my favorite.

I wash down the outside kitchen table, plug in the induction burner and get to work. Jars, bowls and wooden spoons are soon covered with figgy stickiness and Bacon is sniffing the drips onto his under.the.table doghouse. From the first to the last, this list of fig goodness barely prunes the Fig Tree’s bounty. I’ll pluck and dry some in the oven, too, then add walnuts and anise seed before powdering with sugar like I was taught in Tecognano a lifetime ago by tiny Tita at Col de Leccio—my first Fig experience of eating local and the beginning of a love affair with the Keeping Kitchen.

Simple Fig Jam with vanilla & rum for the French Kitchen Larder

September 07, 2007

My French Kitchen Shelf Sabayon

Above my custom designed 8-burner stove (necessity is the mother of...) is a shelf. Not just any shelf, but a large green-waxed wide shelf pounded into the stone walls of Camont. On this shelf sits the day-to-day kitchen detritus and museum pieces of my French Kitchen including the full-moon lapin.

Below the shelf is line of cast iron hooks from a long ago butcher's shop. Where once hung sides of beef, whole hams and strings of sausage, I hang...
garlic, shallots, three Piments d'Espelette,


& colanders.

You'd be surprised at how people don't respect this gentle hand-written direction. Returning to the French Kitchen after time spent teaching abroad, I find a stray coffee mug, a potholder, or worse yet, a frying pan marring my deliberately designed clutter. It's enough to make a Cook go mad. Imagine beginning a perfect sabayon to pour over bursting ripe figs and then have to go looking for that balloon whisk missing from it's 'at-hand' location!

Oh, the perfect sabayon? I use David Lebovitz' fabulous recipe from his "Ripe for Dessert"book. Instead of adding the sugar and wine to the egg yolks, he adds the sugar to the wine cooks it and then adds the hot wine syrup to the eggs. It has been faultless for me and my cooking class students feel like pros immediately! Merci David for being the Perfect Scoop on all thing sweet!

These are my own changes to the recipe to accommodate my hand-whisked kitchen and local ingredients. I use an armagnac-based aperitif- Floc de Gascogne, and the deep golden yolks from my neighbors farm.

Sabayon a la Gascogne
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup Cotes de Gascogne

While the sugar and wine are heating together in a small sauce pan,
whisk the egg yolks vigorously in a large bowl until light and foamy.
Once the sugar has dissolved into the wine, pour the wine syrup little by little into the eggs yolks whisking all the time and singing 'Amore Mio' along with Pink Martini at the top of your lungs.

Now return the egg/wine/sugar mixture to the sauce pan over low heat. Continue to whisk until you notice the first signs of thickening. At this time, I switch to a very soft silicon spatula for stirring. As soon as I notice the foamy whisked top of the mixture is no longer separating from the eggy bottom I remove the pan from the heat. Rather than plunging a hot pan in ice water to arrest the cooking (sounds an extravagant use of ice cubes to this boat person) , I toss the sabayon back into the cool egg yolk bowl and whisk a little more as it cools. Eh, voila! That's it, too simple.

It looks like this poured over a few of those bursting ripe figs from my kitchen terrace tree.

September 04, 2007

Mixed baguette- a heirloom tomato sandwich

Some things are too simple.

No words need describe the brightacidsweet flavors of this mixed bag of market tomatoes.


add oil.




Summer food from France.