Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Le Toussaint et Maillane

All Saints Day.  November 1.  No work for the Frenchies.  No school.  Tomorrow is the day when they visit cemeteries and leave flowers.  However, some of them will do this today since they work tomorrow.  Chrysanthemums are the flowers for graves in France.  You would never, ever offer them to a living person.  Remember that in case you are invited for dinner and want to take a nice little gift to your host or hostess.  Stick with roses.
In 2008, Chef Érick and I took guests to Fassy bakery in Maillane in late October and Jean-Pascal was making these lovely pâtisseries

He is one of my favorites.  Always very welcoming and very funny.  He had a hard time understanding why I was going to leave his Provence and return to the United States at the end of my sabbatical.  He let me make my own fougasse that day.  Well, I got to cut it anyway. 

His family has been baking for six generations. 

The bakery occupies the former home of the maternal grandparents of Frédéric Mistral (1813-1914), the Nobel prize winning poet.  I took this photo of him just a day or two before I left Arles.  I roamed around town taking my last sabbatical pictures.
I am quite sure I heard him whispering to me that I would return someday.  That I wouldn't be able to stay away from his Provence.  He's right.  I will be back in January, Frédéric.  Attends-moi.

Two of M. Mistral's quotes I particulary like--

-"Quand le Bon Dieu en vient à douter du monde, il se rappelle qu'il a crée la Provence."
   (When the Good Lord has doubts about the world, he remembers that he created Provence.)

-"Qui a vu Paris et pas Cassis, n'a rien vu."
 "Qu'a vist Paris e non Cassis a ren vist." 
  (He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing.)

recipe from Érick and Madeleine Vedel

Fougasse is a Provençal flat bread.  It is cut in a ladder-type shape and can be savory or sweet.  When it is made with olive oil it is part of the Christmas meal in Provence (Pompe à l'huile).  It can be filled with olives, cheese, anchovy paste, pork cracklings, etc.  Or it can be flavored with orange, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. 

500 grams of bread flour (2 1/4 cups)
10 grams of salt (1/2 tsp.)
20-30 grams of baker's yeast in cakes (more in winter, less in summer)
200-250 grams of water (1 cup or a little more), as needed

Mix together the above and knead for 15 minutes.  Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic to keep the dough from drying out.
The next day, take out the dough, cut it into sections, roll it out and make the cuts you would like.  Add pork or duck cracklings by folding them into the dough, then rolling the dough again, folding it again, rolling again.  Or sprinkle some cheese and sun-dried tomatoes on top, or olives, olive oil, herbes de provence, or honey.  Tapenade could be used.  If you decide to use orange flavoring, do so when you mix the dough.  You can really use your imagination here.  (I really liked to eat it for breakfast, no matter what flavor, so when I went out to get pastries, I almost always bought one or two.)

Preheat oven to 200˚C/420˚F.  Let rise 15-30 minutes in a warm place just until it is filled out.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until just golden brown on top.

Bon appétit, Le Toussaint, Jean-Pascal Fassy et M. Mistral!

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