Thursday, February 4, 2016

An Updated Version of Boeuf Bourguignon

Last weekend we served one of our all time French favorites for cool weather - Boeuf Bourguignon and found it necessary to update the recipe a bit from my 2014 post, link here.

The original recipe calls for beef chuck, but we found that it took much longer to cook the beef chuck (a couple of hours longer) to reach the tender stage. In fact it took so much so that we had to remove the carrots so they didn’t turn to mush. So we went back to our old standby cut of meat for braises – bottom round.

Another change that I made is one that I find can trip up even some seasoned cooks. When a recipe includes cooking instructions in the list of ingredients (which the onions did), it’s easy to forget that when you’re deep in to preparing the recipe and can throw you off when you are supposed to add that ingredient.  So I’ve re-written the recipe to include cooking the onions in the instructions, not in the list of ingredients.

Be sure to read the cook’s notes before purchasing the bacon. The original recipe called for smoked bacons and some smoked bacons can be heavily smoked and that is not the kind of bacon the French would use in their Beef Bourguignons. Most often they use lardons in their braises and are very easy to find in most French supermarkets. Braised dishes such as this always taste better the next day, so if you have time, leave it in the refrigerator a night or two  so the flavors can meld.

We chose to accompany our Bourguignon with mashed potatoes instead of the toasted country bread the original recipe called for. Noodles are also excellent.

French braise such as this is an excellent serve-yourself dish during the Super Bowl or for an open house. Just use one of the pretty braisers such as La Creuset of Stab and have it on the stove filled with the bourguignon gently simmering alongside mashed potatoes or buttered noodles warming in a double boiler over hot water. It’s as simple as that.

Bon Appétit.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa via The Food Channel – serves 6
Printable Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound apple wood smoked bacon, diced – see cook’s notes
2 1/2 pounds bottom round beef, trimmed of excess fat & cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, peeled, then sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy (or ½ if you prefer)
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups fat free, low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole pearl onions, or fresh small pearl onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

Accompaniment with either:
Mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, or a hardy country bread or sourdough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate lined with paper towels.

Dry the beef cubes well with paper towels, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside. Toss the carrots and the sliced onions in the fat in the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cognac. Stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (You can add up to ½ cup of cognac if you wish).

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of red wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Time out for a cook’s note: If you wish to prepare this dish in advance, at this point when it cools you can cover it and keep it covered for several days in the refrigerator. We like to skim off the excess fat from the top with a spoon when it’s removed from the refrigerator and still cold. Braises served the next day are always better for maximum flavor.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the small frozen whole onions or if using fresh onions, parboil for 30 seconds in lightly salted water, then drain and slip off the skins. Brown the onions in a little butter & olive oil until they take on a bit of color before adding them to the stew. Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and have given off their liquid, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Garnish each serve with a little finely chopped parsley.

Serve with mashed potatoes, or buttered noodles, or over a slice of crusty bread. To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on one side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon some stew over a slice of the bread and sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley.

Cook’s Notes: The French would not use overly smoked bacon in their Bourguignon. Therefore I suggest that you use a lightly apple wood smoked bacon and stay away from the heavily smoked bacons such as Nueske’s and Benton’s. Both brands are excellent smoked bacons, but save them for a BLT or breakfast. You don’t want your Bourguignon to taste too smoky.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

I will be sharing this with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms & Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.

Have a great weekend everyone. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Greetings from Fort Myers, Florida, the City of Palms

Greetings from Fort Myers, Florida, the City of Palms. Because I haven’t written a post for a while I wanted to check in and say hello. I miss all of you so very much and want to thank those that have written to check on me and to ask how I’m doing. Thank you. Your friendship is one of the greatest pleasures of blogging.

Believe it or not, we’re still in the midst of settling in. Don’t let anyone tell you that merging two completely furnished houses into one is easy – far from it. I still have numerous boxes in the garage yet to be unpacked, including my vast collection of cookbooks (there are no bookshelves in this house – yet, but hopefully we’ll have some soon). To further complicate things, we are planning to rip out and replace our original mid-seventies kitchen and laundry room this spring or early summer and replace them with an up-to-date kitchen and turn the laundry into a butler’s pantry & bar that will include more storage for china & glass. For those of you that have been through this kind of “tear out and replace everything” experience, I know that you’ll understand how busy we’ve been working with various kitchen designers, plumbers, electricians and contractors to find the ones that are right for our job and budget.

We are enjoying Fort Myers very much. Our home is in Whiskey Creek, an older, established neighborhood off of McGregor Boulevard that includes a golf course and country club. It is very convenient to shopping and nice restaurants. McGregor Boulevard is one of the main arteries in the city from downtown, running alongside the Caloosahatchee River, and is often referred to as the “Grand Dame of Fort Myers.” It is also the route to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and Fort Myers Beach. McGregor Boulevard is lined on both side of the street with lovely old royal palm trees. Because Thomas Edison had a deep respect for nature, he was determined to beautify the Fort Myers area, so he imported and planted the royal palms lining McGregor Boulevard and those palms are how the “City of Palms” nickname came about.

Thomas Edison ("Seminole Lodge") and Henry Ford’s winter home (“The Mangos”) are located side by side on McGregor Boulevard on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Long time readers of My Carolina Kitchen will remember my post several years ago that featured Seminole Lodge, Edison’s home, link here. Both the Edison & Ford’s home, including Edison’s laboratory, are open to the public and a do-not-miss when visiting the area. Edison and Ford, along with Henry Firestone, who also had a home here, were generally considered the three leaders in American industry at the time, and often worked and vacationed together.

Thomas Edison's Estate

I’ve long been fascinated with history and more precisely, what role women played in history. Recently I discovered that there 2 women who are responsible for the gorgeous palms that line McGregor Boulevard.

One was Mina Edison, Thomas Edison’s wife. Thomas Edison donated the royal palms along the boulevard from downtown to their estate, but after Edison’s death it was Mina’s efforts that continued the beautiful stately palms that line McGregor Boulevard from the Edison estate to Whiskey Creek, about 3 miles south, where our home is located. Mina Edison had been around famous people all of her life. She gracefully entertained many famous guests such as Presidents Hoover and Wilson, the kings of Sweden & Siam, educator “Black Jack” Pershing and Helen Keller, industrialists Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and George Eastman. Other guests included Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh and famed musical artists of the time that Edison had recorded on his phonograph records.

The other is Tootie McGregor, wife of Aston McGregor, a prominent Fort Myers pioneer who became the President of Standard Oil and for whom McGregor Boulevard is named. At Aston McGregor’s death his fortune was estimated at 12 million dollars in today’s economy. Not many people can say they made the world a bit more beautiful, but that’s exactly the legacy of Tootie McGregor. Tootie is considered one of Fort Myer’s founding mothers and is credited for converting Riverside Road, now McGregor Boulevard, from a dirt cattle trail to the elegant tree-lined McGregor Boulevard of today. It was Tootie who continued the Edison's elegant palms from Whiskey Creek all the way to Punta Rassa. Punta Rassa was named by the Spanish Conquistadors in the mid-16th century that unloaded cattle in the area. It was a thriving cattle shipping town in the 1800’s, where cattle would be loaded at the port on ships destined for Cuba. It was one of the home bases for Jake Summerlin, who was one of the wealthiest cattle barons in Florida by the time he reached age 40 and believed to be the first child born in Florida after the land was ceded by Spain. Today the palm lined McGregor Boulevard stretches 14 miles from downtown to Punta Rassa. Punta Rassa fell on hard times and most people today know it to be nothing more than a quaint section on Summerlin Road that links Sanibel Island with the great Fort Myers area.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the history McGregor Boulevard and how Fort Myers became the “City of Palms.” Of course the Edison’s and McGregor’s contributed much much more to Fort Myers that I’ve covered today, but we drive along McGregor Boulevard almost every day and I always think of Mina Edison and Tootie McGregor when I see the magnificent palms that grace the old boulevard.

To close with a bit of trivia, with almost 1100 patents to his credit, Thomas Edison has been dubbed “America’s prolific inventor.”  We all know his achievements include the electric light bulb, phonograph, movie camera & projector and the ticker tape machine. However, you might not know some of his lesser known inventions - wax paper, tin foil and mucilage, the “sticky stuff” that is affixed to postage stamps, envelopes, and labels.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge. 

Have a nice weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by My Carolina Kitchen.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

On the Move Again

We’re on the move again. I only wish it was on this road to Provence with its beautiful old plane trees that welcome you into Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Don’t I wish, but actually by the time you read this we’ll be on is an interstate that runs through Georgia, taking us to our “what-was” winter home in southwest Florida. That winter home will now become our year-around dwelling. A few weeks ago our house here in the mountains sold and we’re off on a new adventure. This is the first time in almost 30 years that we’ll not own 2 houses.

But there comes a time in your life when you realize it’s time to get off of that merry-go-around full of adventures of owning second homes and simplify and get down to one. It’s not easy to admit you might be getting too old switch homes twice a year, open and close houses for the season, keep up maintenance and bare the expenses and headaches (yes there are headaches along the way) of two houses. But we have come to that stage in our lives.

So we’re off the southwest Florida for good, or at least we’re telling ourselves that. Who knows what life will bring. Meakin is still yearning to buy a petite place in Provence. What - is he crazy? Probably. We’ve both always been a bit crazy and impulsive. This one is in Saint-Remy-de-Provence and would be perfect don't you think?

You would think we would be used to moving. After all, we’ve owned 16 houses (and lived in even more) while we climbed up career ladders. We’ve moved around a lot in our 46 years of marriage. If you count the houses we never lived in but bought with the idea of remodeling and selling, there would be even more. We were flipping houses during the 70’s in the West University and Rice area near downtown Houston before the word “flipping” was invented. But I assure you that no move is easy, no matter whether you’re accustomed to it or not. Now we have the challenge of merging 2 houses and all of their furnishing into one and trust me, that’s not an easy thing to do. We have forty-six years worth of collections and antiques to sort out and decide “does it go or does it stay?”

And worst of all, we’ll be leaving behind family in the mountains. That makes it really, really hard. But they know our ways, they know we’ll return. However, the next time it will be in a vacation rental for a month or so and not buy something again, although the temptation is always there. I can just hear one of us saying, “This house could be so nice (or cute of whatever word we use to convince the other one) if we did this or that to it.” Perhaps when we return to the mountains next year we’ll stay in this adorable cabin near Mirror Lake in Highlands, NC. It looks perfect to me. Maybe it’s for sale……just kidding.

Or maybe next fall we’ll stay in the Trail's Inn cabin, high in the tree tops in Highlands. Who knows where we’ll land.

For now we’ll be trying our best to stay away from those impulses as we jump head first into remodeling our seriously out-of-date Florida kitchen. We’re currently on a kick of converting unattractive laundry rooms into butler’s pantries with more storage as we did in the condo we sold a couple of years ago. That project will also happen at the same time as the kitchen project. But that remodeling will take place most likely next summer.

I’ll think of you when I’m knee deep unpacking the zillions of boxes, re-arranging furniture (poor Meakin), moving pictures about to find just-the-right spot and all of the other decorating joys and frustrations of a new place. The nice part about this house is that it’s in a well established neighborhood with mature trees and close to everything. After living in the mountains with only a Walmart, which is definitely better than nothing that’s for sure, I’m looking forward to “real stores.” Two of my old stomping grounds, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macys, are practically around the corner. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do like nice things. Plus Fresh Market and a wonderful little French bakery owned by a real Frenchman from Lyon are close by and Naples (SW Florida’s version of the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach, only smaller) and its fine dining and shopping, isn’t that far away, so I know we’ll be happy there.

Coincidentally My Carolina Kitchen’s 7th anniversary is this month. Seven years is a long time to blog on a continuous basis, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. I am also so pleased that Meakin and I have gotten the chance to meet quite a few of you and I look forward to the opportunity to meet even more of you.

I know the timing is a bit off, but with all the packing and unpacking that I will be doing, I must take a short break. When I return, we’ll take up where we left off and celebrate the start of My Carolina Kitchen’s 8th year.

See you soon.
Sam & Meakin 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Paris Market Cookbook – a book review

My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes, written by fellow blogger Emily Dilling, is a delightful armchair trip to Paris and Emily’s favorite markets. Emily is originally from California, but has called Paris home for the last ten years. She is passionate about food and the people who grow and make it. She runs Paris Paysanne, a blog dedicated to discovering Paris markets and terroir.

The book centers around the various Parisian markets and Emily is an expert there. She knows where the best food markets are, including their addresses. She introduces you to her favorite vendors, local farmers and independent producers in the various arrondissements of Paris. There are also great tips on which vendors have the “best” of what the season has to offer (hint, there’re the ones with the longest lines). I know for a fact from shopping in Provence recently that it is important to get to know the various vendors in the markets. Building a repore with them assures that you’ll get the best of the season. Personally I can’t imagine finding any of these markets on my own, especially in a city the size of Paris.

With Emily’s help you’ll discover other shops you might otherwise miss. She knows where to find a great selection of made-in-France cotton tea towels (you surely don’t want to bring back anything made in China) and pretty French linen napkins and place mats that make great gifts for your friends or for yourself for that matter that are typically found in every kitchen in France.

There’s a new movement in Paris underway to provide Parisians with locally roasted ethically sourced coffee that is available in various coffee shops around the city, some even offering classes on how to make a truly great cup of coffee. One such cafe is Coutume Café in the 7th arrondisssement. I for one would never be able to find it without Emily’s guide.

Whenever we travel to Provence, I always take along a local guide book and it’s not always Rick Steves or Lonely Planet. I can find the Old Port in Marseille or The Palace of the Popes in Avignon on my own. Rather, I take a copy of Patricia Wells’ Provence Cookbook with me. I know that Patricia Wells has the knowledge that only a local possess to guide me to her favorite shops, restaurants, and markets to insure that I find the best that Provence has to offer.

Now I know who to turn to in Paris - Emily Dillings. When I stroll the streets in the City of Lights in search of best-of-the-best local markets and shops, I will have a copy of My Paris Market Cookbook tucked inside my Longchamps tote bag.

The recipes in the book are divided by seasons, which makes perfect sense because in France you’ll only find the foods that are in season sold in the markets. French markets would no more have Cavaillon melons for sale in the winter than they would have butternut squash in the summer. Emily’s recipes are the kind of simple and delightfully delicious seasonal favorites that appeal to me most about French food.

I’ve included three of my favorites, excerpted with permission from My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes by Emily Dilling and photos by Nicholas Ball. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

We made this dish last week and served it for dinner with a juicy porterhouse steak and tart tossed green salad. Highly recommended.

From My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes by Emily Dilling – serves 4
Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

The French rarely go overboard with their garlic, but these mushrooms are the exception. This simple side dish is easy to make and flavorful, with a healthy dose of garlic and parsley. Be sure to let your mushrooms cook slowly on low heat, releasing their juices and bringing out their full flavor.

2 pounds (1 kilo) mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitake, or even button mushrooms will work)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Under a thin stream of cold water, lightly wash mushrooms and remove their feet. Use a clean dish towel to dry the mushrooms, then cut them into uniform slices, about ¼ inch thick. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and sauté the onion and shallot until transparent, about 3–5 minutes. In the meantime, stir together garlic and parsley in a small bowl. Add mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have given their juice and then the juice has been cooked off, 3–5 minutes. Add parsley and garlic and cook another 2–3 minutes, before the parsley begins to wilt. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

These baked eggs make a simple entrée for lunch or dinner as well as a delightful egg addition to brunch. Chopped chives add a dash of color to this almost effortless French classic, which is easy to serve in individual ramekins. Emily says this has become a breakfast staple her home, where she uses fresh eggs from the Marché Biologique des Batignolles, page 119, to whip up a breakfast dish that is sure to please and start the day off right.

From My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes by Emily Dilling – serves 4
Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

For each 3-inch (7½ cm) ramekin:
Butter to coat the inside of the ramekin
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
1 large egg
Generous pinch of grated Gruyère
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh chives to garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter the inside of each ramekin. Add crème fraîche, then crack one egg into each ramekin, without breaking the yolk. Top with grated Gruyère and a dash of salt and pepper. Place on middle rack in oven (if making several, place on a baking sheet). Bake for 6–8 minutes, until cheese is melted and eggs are set but not cooked through. The yolk should look glassy and remain still when ramekin is lightly shaken. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve in ramekin with toasted baguette.

I am very anxious to try Emily’s recipe for socca as soon as I can get my hands on a bag of chickpea flour. We were first introduced to socca a number of years ago when we were visiting friends who had a home just north of the French Riviera area. The second day we were there they took us to the big market in nearby Antibes. We had barely had a chance to look around the stalls when our friend Tony excused himself and returned from a street vendor with a couple of what looked like a wafer thin pancake wrapped in white paper. He thrust them in our hands and said, “Try these. They’re a regional specialty.” It was a bit soft and crunchy at the same time. Ever since that day, I’ve been crazy about socca.  

In Paris, socca can be hard to find; that’s why Emily says there’s always a line at Alain’s stand at Marché des Enfants Rouges, page 10, where the friendly vendor prepares hot-off-the-griddle socca for eager eaters. It is often eaten tapas-style, with deep-fried zucchini flowers and fish. Serve your socca fresh out of the oven, broken into jagged sections that guests can eat with their hands. Fresh ground black pepper is key to this recipe; socca should never be served without being given a few turns of the pepper mill first.

From My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes by Emily Dilling – makes 2 to 3 batches 
Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

1 cup (150 grams) chickpea flour
1 cup (240 mL) water
2 large pinches of fine sea salt
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt (optional)

Whisk together chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl. Cover bowl with a dish towel and let sit for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Once oven is preheated, lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Pour batter into the baking sheet, creating a thin, even layer. Bake for 10–15 minutes or until golden and crispy around the edges. Remove from baking sheet by scraping and breaking socca into jagged pieces with a spatula. Repeat until all the remaining batter is used, combining scraped socca onto one large plate. Top with fresh ground black pepper and coarse sea salt, if using. Serve immediately.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of My Paris Market Cookbook to review. The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. The recipes are excerpted with permission from My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes by Emily Dilling and photos are by Nicholas Ball. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. Thank you Skyhorse Publishing for the opportunity to read and enjoy this great cookbook. You were a pleasure to work with.  

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Le Bistrot du Paradou

Le Bistrot du Paradou is as authentic as possible when it comes to a real French bistro. Located in the small and idyllic village of Paradou, it’s about a 15 minute drive from Saint-Remy-de-Provence and well within driving distance from Arles or Avignon. Another reason to visit is it's one of cookbook author Patricia Wells’ favorite bistros. Patricia Wells is well known throughout Provence and divides her time between Paris and her lovely farmhouse and cooking school in the Var department of Provence.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

This quintessential French bistro is an institution that is loved and adored not only by the locals but also the international set and tourists that are “in the know.” Even though Le Bistrot du Paradou has been discovered, it feels about as far from a tourist trap as anything could possibly be. Case in point, the two couples seated next to us were from Dubai and Scotland and were spending a long weekend in their second home in nearby Saint-Remy.

The atmosphere in the bistro oozes with character and old world charm, the generous servings of fabulous food, wine, and cheese, all served in a leisurely fashion, never disappoint. You can tell by the pictures that it is a warm and friendly bistro. Dejeuner (lunch) is 49 euros per person and includes wine, dessert, and coffee.

As you can see, each day of the week features a set menu with specialties of the area, such as aioli, lamb, lapin (rabbit) and Breese chickens. We wisely called a couple of weeks in advance for a reservation for Tuesday, the day their wonderful local lamb, Agneau de Pays, is on the menu. Local lamb is also one of the most popular dishes in Provence. We had house guests and didn’t not want them to visit Provence without having the pleasure of dining here. I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is to make advance reservations for this very popular bistro.

Here are examples of our meal.

Salade Italienne - Italian salad

Sauccisson lyonnaise aux Pistaches - Sausage with pistachios and lentil salad

Gigot d'Aneau - roasted lamb 

This is the cheese tray, which is passed from table to table after you make your selections. Can you imagine a more generous cheese course?

If you have room for dessert, they're all homemade at Le Bistrot du Paradou.

Mousse au chocolat

Creme caramel

Thanks for our friendly waiter, Meakin was able to have a peek in the kitchen. That’s the Chef in the green jacket that the waiter is kissing on the cheek.

Le Bistrot du Paradou
57 Avenue de la Vallée des Baux
13520 Paradou, France
+33 4 90 54 32 70
Reservations are essential
A "do-not-miss" experience when you're in Provence
Highly recommended - you'll thank me for this one
The bistro doesn’t have a website, but you can find them on Facebook 

Although it was very tempting to take a leisurely drive through the countryside after this splendid meal and retire to our house for a nap, we wanted to introduce our guests to the Moulin Jean Marie Cornille, an olive oil mill dating back to 1610 in the nearby tiny village of Maussane-les-Alphilles. Most olive oils are pressed from a single variety of olives, but here they are pressed from a variety of olives. Patricia Wells calls Jean Marie Cornille’s olives oils “the Chateauneuf-du-Pape of olive oils.” I don’t know how you could get a higher recommendation.

While browsing and tasting their various olive oils in Cornille boutique, we purchased two bottles of olive oil for our French kitchen to use in vinaigrettes and also for dipping pieces of crusty French bread. One was a virgin black olive oil that uses only black (ripe) olives with a fruity flavor that was reminiscent of cooked artichokes. The other bottle was a green extra virgin olive oil that was also fruity with undertones of fresh almonds, grapefruit, and fresh artichokes. Meakin had a peek inside the 17th century mill and here is a close-up photo of one of the granite stone wheels that they use to press the olives on arrival at their mill.

Olive harvest time begins at the end of October and lasts until the end of December. For more about olives and how they are grown, click here. For more about how the olives are harvested and pressed, I think you’ll enjoy this informative video, link here. You’ll see the special combs and nets that are used to harvest the olives and the plastic crates that are used for transporting the olives to the mill, along with interesting photos of how the huge granite wheels such as the above press the olives to produce the oil.  

Moulin Jean Marie Cornille
Rue Charloun Rieu
13520 Maussane les Alpilles
+33 (0)4 90 54 32 37
Highly recommended if in the area

I was anxious to try Le Bistrot du Paradou’s lentil and sausage salad that they served as an entree (appetizer) at home. It satisfied me as a light dinner or also makes a nice beginning to a French meal. They used a Lyon sausage with pistachios, which I couldn’t find, so I substituted garlic sausage that gave the look and feel of what I was after to the dish. It’s important to use French green lentils because they have a nutty flavor and don’t fall apart as ordinary supermarket lentils tend to do. Just be sure not to overcook the lentils and you’ll be fine.

French Lentil Salad with Garlic Sausage
From My Carolina Kitchen, serves 4
Printable Recipe

1 cup French green lentils
4 ½ cups cold water
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium peeled onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot (or 2 small ones), peeled & finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, more to taste
14 to 16 ounces fully cooked garlic sausage
4 fresh sprigs of parsley for garnish, optional

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan or stockpot, bring lentils and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender but not falling apart. This will take between 12 and 25 minutes. Taste as you go along for doneness.

While the lentils simmer, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan over moderate to low heat, then cook onions, carrots and fennel seeds, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender but not browned, about 10 minutes, then add a bit of kosher salt to taste.

Meanwhile slice the garlic sausage into ¼” slices. Heat sausages over low heat, taking care that they do not brown. You want them just to heat through.

To serve, place a good size spoonful of lentils in the center of 4 plates and arrange 4 slices of the garlic sausages around the lentils. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil if you wish and serve right away, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley if desired.

I haven’t had a chance to roast a lamb since we’ve returned, but had I, I would have definitely chosen this recipe from Patricia Well’s Bistro Cooking. We have used this recipe for lamb on numerous occasions and it has never failed us.

Roasted Leg of Lamb
Gigot roti au gratin de Monsieur Henny, serves 8 to 10
Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells
Printable Recipe

1 boneless leg of lamb, about 6 to 7 pounds
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into very thin slivers
2 pounds of baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
5 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2/3 cup dry white wine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the vegetables as follows: first a layer of the potatoes, then the onions, followed by the tomatoes. Season each layer with one third of the garlic and thyme plus some salt and pepper. Pour the wine over the vegetables, followed by the olive oil.

Trim the leg of lamb if it’s fatty. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the fresh chopped rosemary. Place a rack over the vegetables to hold the lamb. Roast, uncovered, for about an hour and fifteen minutes, turning the lamb every 15 minutes and basting it with some of the liquid underneath.  For rare to medium rare, remove the lamb from the oven when it reaches 125 degrees for rare and 130 for medium rare. Tent the lamb with foil and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to rest. Slice and serve alongside the vegetables.

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This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm and Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday.
Have a great weekend everyone.