Fantabulous French

Roquefort, Walnut & Belgian Endive Salad

The French have contributed much to the eating pleasures we enjoy today, even if it is considered one the “unfriendly cuisines,” meaning complicated and hard to master.  However, today’s impressive salad recipe couldn’t be easier.

Regions-of-France-map

This week, our culinary class took us to the regions of France, where we studied how the geography, climate and neighboring countries have shaped French cuisine. Below are a few that I found to have culinary significance.

Burgundy

This central region is considered the gastronomic region. The land is some of the agriculturally richest in France. Famous dishes from this area are Boeuf Bourguignon, and Coq au Vin.  Another well-known product is Dijon mustard.

Fun Trivia: It is documented that 66 gallons of mustard was consumed at a banquet given for the King of France, Phillip VI in 1336.

Normandy

Camembert, cider and cows… oh my.  This northwestern hill-covered countryside has a cooler climate, which is perfect for grazing cows and growing apples. It is the home of Camembert cheese and Calvados apple brandy.  Most dishes are made with cream or butter.

Alsace-Lorraine

This northeastern region is influenced by its next-door neighbor Germany. It is the home of ‘chou-croute’ (French for sauerkraut).  Lard is the cooking fat of choice here. Other famous foods are Quiche Lorraine, foie gras, sausages and pastries.

Provence

This southeastern region on the Mediterranean Sea is influenced by Italy. Provencal cooking uses olive oil instead of butter.  Ratatouille, BouillabaisseSalade Niçoise and “Herbes de Provence” (an assortment of herbs grown locally) are just a few well-known dishes here.

After our whirlwind trip of the regions, we sampled quite a range of cheeses, salt and oil.

French Salts

Secrets of Good Cooking

If you want to be a good cook, there are two ingredients you must use.

High Quality Salt
(from natural sources not iodized grocery store salt which is mostly sodium chloride – for more info click here)

Good Quality Oil
(Not sure? Opt for imported oil from Spain, Italy, Greece or France, as they have higher standards. Make sure the word “Product of France” is on the label to guarantee they are produced in that country.

Chef Carol making Duck GalantineDuck Galantine from New School of Cooking

Chef Carol is carefully de-boning a duck to make Duck Galantine.

A Galantine is a French dish of de-boned meat, which is stuffed with ground, lean meat emulsified with fat and other assorted ingredients.  This elaborate dish is difficult and time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Chef Carol makes Crepes from New School of CookingMaking Crepes at New School of Cooking

We learned how to make crepes, and the importance of a good-quality, well-seasoned crepe pan.  Here are a few of our prized dishes.

 making Potato Gratin Forestier at New School of CookingPotato Gratin Forestier

Gratin aux Pommes Forestier (Potato Gratin Forestier)
– a potato gratin cooked with mushrooms.

Provencal Roast TomatoesProvencal Roast Tomatoes

Provencal Roast Tomatoes

Tuna TapenadePear and Watercress Salad

Tuna Tapenade and Pear & Watercress Salad 

Steak with Green Pepper SauceMussels with White Wine

Entrecôte sauce au poivre vert (Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce)
And Moules Mariniere (Mussels with White Wine)

Click here to see the recipe on Rona’s blog.

Making MacaroonsPrune and Almond Tart

Vanilla Macaroons with a Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache and
Tarte aux Pruneaux et aux Amandes (Prune and Almond Tart)

TIP:trick for cutting onions

I learned a great tip from my fellow student Scott, who suggested I put a match in my mouth while I cut onions to prevent the tears.

To my amazement it worked, however, I almost lost my eyebrows and bangs.  Seriously folks, don’t light the match!

Today Recipe:

This simple salad could be dressed up for the holidays by caramelizing the walnuts. You could also exchange the nuts and oil for pistachio or hazelnut for a fun twist.

I personally prefer to use a teaspoon less lemon juice to bring out the wonderful flavor of the walnut oil. As always, taste as you go.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Roquefort, Walnut & Belgian Endive Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: French
 
This impressive yet simple salad is perfect for entertaining. Add cranberries for a festive holiday salad.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon good quality salt
  • 3 tablespoons of walnut oil
  • 1 pound Belgian endives
  • ½ cup toasted walnut pieces (or caramelized)
  • 4 ounces Roquefort
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and salt and stir to blend. Add the oil and stir to blend. Adjust seasonings and set aside.
  2. Separate the endive leaves. Wash and pat dry with a towl. Place the whole leaves in a salad bowl and sprinkle on the walnuts and crumbled cheese.
  3. Pour on just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves and toss.

Did you know…

There is actually no English translation for the French phrase Bon Appétit?
I love language that is universally understood, especially when it comes to food.

Quotes

“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” ― Julia Child

Kind of like eating a hot dog and peanuts at a museum.
…and then she paused for thought.

Rona Lewis and Cathy ArkleHope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom.  Join us each week as we continue learning new culinary skills. Next week is Mediterranean food.

You can also read about Rona’s experience on her blog or What’s Cookin online magazine.

 

 

 

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

, , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to Fantabulous French

  1. Tina Winters September 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Wow! This looks wonderful! Cathy you’ve become quite a chef! 2 thumbs up!

    • cathyarkle September 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      Thanks Tina! It is so much fun.

  2. Nan September 19, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Wish I was in class beside you! You make it look like so much fun!
    Another great Blog, thanks for all of the time consuming efforts you have made on our behalf.

    • cathyarkle September 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Thanks Nan, you would love the class. So glad you appreciate the blog and all the effort… makes it worthwhile with comments like that. 🙂

  3. Cheri Newell September 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    CATH… I am literally salivating looking at this scrumptious food! Now if science could perfect teleportation… and you export orders from your kitchen… I would be your first customer! Fantastic blog!

    • cathyarkle September 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      Cheri, you will just have to make a trip to LA and I will cook for you!

  4. Leslie Macchiarella September 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Oh wow! What a line-up! After perusing your amazing photographs I want to try them all! (and don’t those bittersweet chocolate macarons look loverly!?) Yum-o! 😀

    • cathyarkle September 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks Leslie, everything tasted so good. How can you go wrong with French food! It was the prune and almond tart that won my heart. I made it with fig and it was great as well.

  5. California Greek Girl September 23, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Cathy,
    This post is not only making my mouth water, but your photos are just amazing!
    At first it looked like you had a cig in your mouth!
    Enjoyed everything in this post…
    You’re a fantastic blogger!!!

    • cathyarkle September 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks Mary! This blog is a labor of love. Well… sometimes it is just labor, but you know how it goes. 🙂

Leave a Reply