Thursday, May 6, 2010
A dream job
For the fourth year, my school has supported a two-day cooking seminar at C'est si Bon! cooking school. I offered it to eighth graders only this year. They had to get their teachers' approval and apply for one of the spots. Today was day one.
We arrived at C'est si Bon! around 9:00 am.
Dorette's husband, Rich, gave the kids a tour of the garden in back of the cooking school. We returned to it later to pick salad greens and herbs.
Here is what was in store for today--
The cauliflower soup was our first course. The cauliflower and potatoes were cooked just right-- a bit of a crunch left, not mushy at all. From this...
The second course was ham and cheese crêpes made from buckwheat flour. Most people are familiar with dessert crêpes. Main dish crêpes are so good and there are so many ways to fill them. There is a little crêperie in Chantilly, France with the most wonderful spinach crêpes... I digress.
Our next course was a beet root salad. I'd never seen orange beets. They are so colorful.
By this time, the girls were getting full. We are used to eating in about 20 minutes in our classrooms. Taking 1 1/2 - 2 hours for lunch is an unheard of luxury in American schools.
But, wonder of wonders, they bounced right back and made an amazing recovery just in time for dessert! A Far Breton had been mixed up and baked in the oven. We used blackberries, cooking them down a bit.
We drank several pitchers of water flavored with lemon balm picked from the garden. The temperature hit 90 today and the water was perfect.
Stay tuned for day two.
(from the C'est si Bon! kitchen)
A far is a custardy pudding cake, similar to a clafouti but with a dense, smooth, flan-like texture. This is the signature pastry of Brittany, served for breakfast as well as dessert.
2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. fruit-- prunes, blackberries, cherries, for example
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. armagnac or other brandy
crème fraîche, optional
Combine milk, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Blend in mixer, with a whisk or in a blender for 1 mnute. Add flour and blend until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Combine fruit and 1/2 cup water in small heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fruit is softened and water has almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour brandy over fruit. Using a long match, ignite the brandy. Let flames burn off, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer fruit to small bowl. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper. Dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Place pan on baking sheet.
Reblend batter until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Drop fruit into batter, distributing evenly. Bake cake on baking sheet until sides are puffed and brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Place piece of parchment paper on flat plate. Sift powdered sugar onto paper. Run knife around cake in pan to loosen. Invert pan onto paper, releasing cake. Remove pan. Peel off paper. Place serving plate over cake and invert. Dust top of cake with additional powdered sugar. Extra fruit and/or crème fraîche may be added.
Bon appétit, C'est si Bon and my chefs!