The word dandelion describes the diuretic virtues of the plant (literality piss in bed- Pissenlit) whereas the Anglo-Saxons call it “dandelion” (Lion’s teeth) which describes the leaf of the plant. She is also called Laiteron or dog’s lettuce.
Cramaillotte is the name of the jam also called dandelion honey for its texture and golden color. This jam made from the flowers of dandelions is very time-consuming collecting just the flowers but goes so well with a soft fresh goat’s cheese. We have a feeling that we eat and smell spring pastures at the same time.
And there is also the grilled or dried root which can be an alternative to coffee and if it is fresh in decoction. It is even used to color cottons!
A bit of advice though… it is better to harvest them at the beginning spring when the shoots are young so the bitterness is not as pronounced, flowers in buttons have a taste of hazelnuts but you need lots of patience collecting them to make a salad or an omelet …
In France, we eat it with hot fried bacon, vinaigrette, comté and croutons. I had never thought of eating the heart of the dandelion and to cook it because I generally use the leaves! I sat at the table in front of my teacher, Jean Paul, who gave me a course in peeling and preparing. You must remove all the green leaves and trim around the root. With the heavy spring rains, the roots were very full of mud and this is where you have to be meticulous, wash and rinse more than once if you do not want to have a “gritty” crunch under your teeth!
You put the dandelion’s hearts in some salt water so that insects get out … I add a little lemon juice to prevent oxidation of the white root. We ate them raw with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, a perfect match with the bitter taste of the plant.
As any green plants, the dandelion can be also accommodated in soups, as a vegetable to complement a meat or in the burger for a change. Try them with soft-boiled eggs, it is really very good.
Now all you have to do is to put your rubber boots, select a big basket, a knife or a small garden shovel and ” go out for dandelions as we go out mushrooming”. A big breath of fresh air and an invigorating walk in meadows, an ideal remedy to get over the winter doldrums!!! And this vegetable does not keep well so you will need to return often to collect them….
My recipe for Dandelion’s jam (Cramaillotte)
1 kg of dandelion flowers, well washed and drained
800 gr of sugar
3 whole organic oranges and 2 whole organic lemons
1 full teaspoon of agar-agar
Cover the dandelions flowers with water, add citrus fruits cut roughly with the skin left on. Boil and then let the mixture soak during 48 hours. Strain to obtain the juice and measure the obtained juice. For a liter of juice you add 800 g of sugar. Cook your jam and add at the end of cooking the agar agar, making sure that the jam boils for a few minutes as the agar agar has to be well diluted. Put into jars.
It is always with an immense pleasure that I visit my organic goat’s cheese producer for the restaurant. Our visit with Brazilian friends came just at the right time with the birth of a female kid which enchanted Stanislas because many births this season so far had been billy goats. When we arrived, he hurried to reach the shed to attend the birth and from farmer became a gynecologist. The kid in a few hours stands up on these small legs and cavorts with the other kids, which never stop to amaze Stanislas.
Patricia takes care of the kids giving them feeding-bottles to the avid drinkers who follow her in the shed by nibbling her pants, asking for more.
Fernando and Cristina are urged to help to give the feeding-bottles, which is for them a moment of enjoyment because the kids are very affectionate and greedy!
Cheese making activity is going to start again soon and I look forward to the beginning of the production so I can put it back on the menu and share it with my customers. From March to November, I enjoy varied recipes… with a confit of flowers of dandelion or poppy. With these two confits, the flavors reminds me of the meadow in flowers during spring and complement well the soft fresh goat cheese.
Stanislas explains to us the great difficulties that “small” farmers have to survive in a world which always wants more … His daily work cannot be accounted in ”office” hours and it is vocational… Stanislas did not come from a farming background. He left his well remunerated office job and decided 10 years’ ago to launch himself in the adventure of farming.
He regrets nothing in spite of the daily difficulties which is a farmer’s job. He hopes simply, like a lot of us in small businesses, people of the land and artisans, creating local wealth that we shall stand firm in front of the administrative constraints of Europe created by bureaucrats or politics who do not understand our daily fight! The economic crisis is easy to blame to decimate unfortunately our small businesses and at the same time accelerate the perdition of know-how of many trades in favor of industrialization of products…. But we have to live with our time and if the new generations prefer industry and always looking for cheap good deal, we are heading towards an irreversible process damaging all level of society… I am very sad in front of this global blindness encouraging a wild capitalist system which will leave many victims unharmed facing the total disregard of Mr and Mrs Average!
Business is slow so it is time for long walks in the Allogny forest, a 15 minutes’ drive from the Echalier. Having had a cold snap for the past few days, I wore my warmest woollen scarf and hicking boots and off I went having put on the back of the stove one of my favourite winter to dish. I call it soul food!
Hen in a pot, this traditional dish in France became one of Henri IV most famous political slogan, a king epicurean with a reputed enormous appetite… “All French people will eat hen in the pot every Sunday during my reign”, a political statement emanating from the King’s memories of the food he ate as a child in the Bearn region. Henri IV used to call in unexpected and eat in farms with the owners when he was travelling. As all farmyards always had chicken and peasants grew their own vegetables, the King try to get the message across that the future of France was in the farming community.
Here is the recipe for 4 people
Winter vegetables of the garden. 4 leeks washed, 4 large carrots peeled, celeriac pieces, turnips, onions, potatoes and parsnips
Herbs and spices: parsley, thyme, bay leaf, cloves
Plunge the hen in a large casserole with carrots, celeriac, turnips and parsnips… Salt and pepper… Bring it to the boil and then add the herbs and spices.
Using a ladle, take out the foam on top of the water when it start simmering to ensure a clear stock.
Put the potatoes and leeks when you come back from your walk and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Take out the hen and the vegetables out, keeping them warm in the hot oven.
Make a sauce by melting butter and mixing 3 soupspoons of flour to it… Pour the stock over it. When it thickens, you can finish the sauce with a mix of an egg yolk with cream. I like to add slice gherkins and a few capers to the sauce and chopped parsley.
Place the hen in the middle of the dish and the vegetable around. The sauce on the side and the hot stock with it.
I can’t wait for another cold Sunday with friends around the fireplace and feel lucky that I can indulge in such a glorious dish! Make sure however that all the ingredients are top… I have certainly found a hip of good producers and when you eat it you know that the simplest dishes can become sublime! Have a nice week-end!
A new trend has appeared these last few years… Small glass cups and appetizers are being served at cocktail parties instead of the traditional “canapés”…You are now often invited in France for a “apéritif dinatoire”, a diner aperitif! It is halfway between a cocktail party and dinner. You often do not have to eat after one of these! I was chosen to prepare a hundred of those small glass cups for the mayor’s New Year wishes to the people of Fussy.
They can be served at the beginning of a meal with the aperitif or as an appetizer and even sometimes they are presented in between dishes. Often they are made of puréed vegetables or mousses and they can be a little tasteless. My view is that they have to be tasteful and with a good dose of strong flavours depending on what you are serving with it…
In Australia; I remember this method of eating was called “grazing”
Here is the selection I did for the event and this could be some ideas for your home…
– Green lentils with an apple chutney and cubes of foie gras
– Chopped scallops with Basmati rice and 2 lemons
– Coleslaw with pineapple and Chorizo
– Vegetarian Bortsch with creamy yogurt from Ivoy le pré
– Potato and herring salad with an horseradish cream
– Jerusalem artichokes with a walnut dressing
2015 has begun. We were open on Christmas Day and New Year’s day and we were fully booked both days which was an encouraging beginning of the year…
I wish to share with you one of the recipe I used for the menu, and the history of this dish is quite interesting as well. The first time I tasted this combination of flavours was in Canberra, Australia. I was at an event’s conference and we had a free day so I took the time to visit our old parliament which is really a jewel of the 1920’s architecture. The ACT Museum and Gallery was also on the agenda. I dropped in the café at lunch time and this is where I had this dish which I have reproduced many times from memory.
I sat on a deck overlooking an installation as I peruse the menu. An intermittent thick fog activated by a machine hidden amongst tall reeds was blown over a large pond. It felt like anytime Indiana Jones on his horse would appear followed by a bunch of baddies… Dreaming away and letting my imagination go wild, I ordered a pumpkin soup Asian style with scallops grilled in sesame oil.
I was not aware then that it would be the beginning of a love affair between me and THAT DISH! The pumpkin was roasted and then simmered in coconut milk, there was ginger and garlic, fish sauce, fresh coriander… And those beautiful plump scallops we get in Australia… I has lots of attempt at reproducing the dish and I think I have mastered it now! I don’t know who was the chef and I cannot remember which year it was but boy! I still remember that day as if it was yesterday.
So here it is for 4 people
2 gloves of garlic pureed
1 onion finely chopped
1 soupspoon of ginger pureed
1 soupspoon of soya sauce
1 soupspoon of fish sauce
2 cans of coconut milk
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 kg of peeled pumpkin roasted in sesame oil in the oven (I like to use Butternut)
1- In sesame oil, fry the ginger, garlic, onion until transparent then add the roasted pumpkin. Stir and then add the coconut milk, the soya sauce and the fish sauce. Cook for 20 minutes.
2- When the soup is cooked, put it through the blender;
3- Using a frying pan, heat the sesame oil until it smokes and then throw your scallops in and then reduce the heat to cook them. Make sure you do not overcook them
4- In a bowl, pour the soup and then place the scallops on the surface of the soup. Pour a little sesame oil and sprinkle fresh coriander of the top.
On the photo, I have decorated with fried green leek as we have no coriander at this time of the year…
Enjoy and all the best for 2015! Don’t forget our first theme night for 2015, Pot au Feu bio on Friday 16th of January….