One of the highlights of our trip to France was, with out a doubt, this cooking class(click for link), called Cuisine de Chef. Surrounded by the spectacular French countryside of mountains, vineyards, and orchards, I can’t think of a more perfect setting to feel submerged into the serene Provence. Even if you do not attend the cooking class, visiting the historic hill top villages of Luberon is an absolute must. We stumbled upon a small wine tasting event after our lunch and explored the magical little village with a glass in hand 🙂
Zucchini blossoms are everywhere! We picked some up for a delicate appetizer of stuffed fried zucchini blossoms with a light pesto dipping sauce.
The class consisted of a small group, a total of 7 including Chef Jean Marc and his wife. Walking into my dream kitchen, beautiful and open, with natural light poring in, I was feeling inspired already. We started the class by going together to the Luberon farmers market- one of the most outstanding markets I have been to. Bustling with local producers of all kinds, amazing arrays of flowers, seasonal vegetables, local olives, wine, honey, you name it! As you are wondering through the market you can’t help but realize this is why Provence is known for food, each vendor treating food as an art, making sure to display their produce in a way to entice, I wanted to taste and savor each item we passed. We explored for a while, picked up some last minute fresh ingredients for the class, with a chance to buy things for ourselves as well. When we were finished there we headed back to the kitchen to get cookin’.
Chef Jean Marc did a great job of teaching hands on skills, involving everyone in the preparation of a 3 course lunch. We learned how to prepare stock (essential component to bring out a depth of flavor in the food we prepare), French cooking techniques, and how to plate our food like a professional.
On the menu was: stuffed zucchini blossoms, langostines (the little shrimp/lobster looking shell fish) in a bouillon flavored with vanilla bean (my fav!), roasted lamb flavored with sage, sauteed eggplant with tomato, black olives and wheat spelt risotto, poached pears and vineyard peaches with blackberry coulis. Everything was delectable!
Each course was enjoyed on the outside patio table, overlooking the mountains, accompanied with a wonderful wine pairing. We worked as a group in a laid back atmosphere, joking around, learning, tasting (#1 rule- don’t forget to taste the food!), and overall having a memorable afternoon filled with delicious french cuisine. Came hungry and left happy. Wishing I could transport back there right about now….
Recipe for Poached Pairs and Vineyard Peaches with Blackberry Coulis by Chef Jean-Marc Villard
350 ml water (1 1/2cups)
120 grams sugar (3/4 cup)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
100 grams (.25lb) Blackberries
10 grams (1 Tbs) sugar
50 ml (3Tbs) syrup
Poach fruit- Peel the pears, scoop out the cores and cut into quarters. Poach the pears in water, sugar, and lemon juice for 5-15 minutes, more time for less ripe fruit. Remove the pears after cooking and set aside. Save the syrup for the peaches.
Make a little cross on the back side of the peaches, drop them into boiling water for 1-2 minutes and stop the cooking in a cold water bath. The peaches should be easy to peel at this point, cut them into equal size quarters. Finish the cooking in the peach syrup on low heat and remove fruit when they are soft and cooked.
Coulis– Blend the blackberry with 10 grams of sugar and 50 ml of syrup. Strain to remove the seeds and place in the refrigerator.
Set the fruit into a shallow dish with 3 quarters poached pears then 3 quarters poached peaches between the pears. Only coat the peaches with the blackberry coulis, add a scoop of sorbet and a fresh mint to top it off.
Here are some pics from the hill top village with wine tasting and a market we visited after the cooking class. Just a word of caution if you are driving, the roads are winding and narrow, as are many roads in the hills and country of Europe, but worth the spectacular views of Provence and a glass of refreshing world famous Rosé!!