French Cooking in South Dakota?!

Melon & Blueberry Parfait with ginger yogurt

Melons and blueberries are a marriage made in heaven.  With wedding season upon us, as well as the extremely hot weather we’re experiencing in Southern California, this parfait provides a refreshing seasonal treat!  Today’s recipe is inspired by a French cooking class I recently participated in South Dakota.

French cuisine in South Dakota?  

Good grief, it sounds like an oxymoron right?  Actually, France was the first European nation to hold any real claim over what would become South Dakota. During the 17th and 18th centuries, French colonial possessions in North America were known as New France. It would go through many hands before becoming part of U.S. as result of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. So there you go.

cathy nelson arkleFrom Paris to the Black Hills

After taking a cooking class at On Rue Tatin in Paris, I discovered that our instructor Susan Herrmann Loomis was teaching in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore just happens to be on my husband’s bucket list, so off we went via Cheyenne. ( click here to see blog)

The class was at the beautiful High Prairie Lodge with host and owner Teri Ciani.

Her professional kitchen is a dream to cook in, complete with all the bells and whistles. I thought everybody would be local, yet New York, Canada, Alaska and California were all represented. We bonded quickly over our welcome meal, expertly prepared by Susan and Teri.

On Rue Tatin Cooking Class in South DakotaOn Rue Tatin Cooking Class in South Dakota
We enjoyed Wild Salmon with Ginger Yogurt Sauce and Cilantro Coulis, buttery corn, followed by a garden salad with a sesame oil vinaigrette, baguette and French cheese. We finished with a seasonal fruit tart.

On Rue Tatin Cooking Class in South DakotaSusan demonstrates how to judge the quality of an olive oil by rubbing your hands with oil and smelling. Our next assignment was salt tasting  which helps define our palette.

I am making Chicken Liver Pâté. It is creamy, light and tastes divine. It is as close as you are going to get to foie gras… especially if you live in California.

Braised fennel & egg flowers on a bed of fresh peas and green beans

We cooked with the most sustainable and locally produced ingredients, including walleye, bison & quail. Observing the life cycle of quail.

Champagne glasses are put to go use in this class!

Melon & Lime Parfait, Chilled Beet Soup with Dream Clouds, and Raspberry Parfait with Normandy Cream.

My bounty of fabulous new foods and friends called for a slide show. Enjoy!

French Inspired Recipe

ginger & lemongrass from Gourmet GardenThis recipe is loosely adapted from the Melon & Lime Parfait. View the original recipe by Susan on her blog by clicking here.

If you don’t have fresh ginger available, look for Gourmet Garden Ginger Spice Blend in your local grocery store. I first tasted this at Camp Blogaway and was pleasantly surprised on how fresh it tasted. I also tested this recipe with Gourmet Garden Lemon Grass instead of the ginger which results in a fun and unique flavor. I think I will try basil next. Be creative.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Melon and Blueberry Parfait with Ginger Yogurt
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 6
This is super easy to make and looks gorgeous. You can use blackberries or raspberries instead of the blueberries.
  • 1 medium cantaloupe, about 1 lb. 12 ounces, rind and seeds removed, cut into chunks
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (from a 1” x 1” chunk of ginger, peeled)
  1. Using a melon ball maker, make 12 melon balls. Put two melon balls and three blueberries on each of six attractive toothpicks or skewers. Place on a plate and refrigerate.
  2. Purée the remaining melon in the work bowl of a food processor. Transfer to a non-reactive, air-tight container and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  3. Whisk together yogurt and ginger in a small bowl. Cover loosely with a towel, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Just before serving, evenly divide melon among the glasses, add a few blueberries on top, then carefully spoon the ginger yogurt over it. Rest a toothpick of melon balls and blueberries over each glass, and serve.


susan-herrmann-loomis on rue tatin
Special thanks to Susan for her expertise, advice and teaching skills. And to our wonderful hostess Teri, whose beautiful kitchen made French cooking come to life.

Here’s to our fabulous hostesses and new friends. “Cin-Cin” was our toast of choice.  I have read that “salute” came from Italian peasants in the country. When they drank wine out of wooden cups, they would say “chin chin” to mimic the sound of wine glasses clinking. Popular rumor has it that it’s also Japanese slang for “human genitalia.” Either way, it’s something to smile about.

I leave you with something French.” A tes amours”- to your loves!
…and then she paused for thought.

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

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20 Responses to French Cooking in South Dakota?!

  1. Teri Ciani August 20, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Hi! Cathy,
    You are so talented. Thank you for everything you have done to ad to such a nice class.
    Warm regards,

    • cathyarkle August 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks Teri. Your hospitality was inspiring!

  2. Cheri Newell August 20, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    You make cooking a divine experience… every dish you create has a memory with it! I’m jealous in a good way! I’ve been a short order cook for the last few school years with twins and athletics… now that they are in college… you make me “want to remember” what a true dining experience is!

    • cathyarkle August 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Thanks Cheri! This recipe would be the one to start with because it is fast, easy and healthy!

  3. Cheri Newell August 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    P.S. Your Blog is amazing!

  4. Nan August 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Inspiring… I don’t know what I want more, to cook or to eat! 🙂

    • cathyarkle August 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Thanks Nan. Do both together 🙂

  5. Jeff Herrmann August 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Great blog Cathy. You brought the experience to life again.

    • cathyarkle August 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Thanks Jeff. It was such a wonderful experience and we enjoyed you and Gayle’s company so much.

  6. cathy bennett August 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Wow!!! I’ll say it again, your site is beautiful, your cooking is beautiful, and you are too!
    What a fun time in SD (I’m almost always in SD :)) It was grand to make a new friend and anticipate future adventures. Keep cooking, filming and sharing it all with us! XO, Cathy (B)

    • cathyarkle August 21, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      CathyB…you are welcome. I had no idea I would have so much fun in So. Dakota! I look forward to our next adventure together.

  7. Leslie Macchiarella August 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Wow! How fun to take that journey with you — and your video was fabulous. I’m still humming the frenchy song. A real work of art this piece! And so many, many delicious photographs! 😀

    • cathyarkle August 21, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Leslie, I am trying to keep up with all the cool things you do on your blog! 🙂
      Glad you came along for the ride.

  8. Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen August 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    This looks so refreshing and delicious!

  9. Lynne @ CookandBeMerry August 28, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Oh my gosh, his looks like so much fun. And the food looks fabulous. I love your slide show! It was totally fascinating. Did you get recipes for all of the dishes? You lucky thing. Really nice photos.

  10. CC July 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    What a fun time! I love the recipe, but would have liked to be there taking French cooking lessons in North Dakota, even more! I have been to Mt. Rushmore though! 🙂

    • Cathy Arkle July 14, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Christina, It is a refreshing recipe for this hot summer. You would have really enjoyed the cooking classes!


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