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!
This week end, freezing cold weather but sunny in and around Fussy so off to Sancerre with Italian guests. I always stop at the Brasserie Sancerroise located at the foot of the hill of the village of Sancerre. You cannot miss it as it is situated at the first round about on the left if you are arriving from Bourges after the fire station!
They really were game to do it!!! Making beer in the middle of vineyards and more so calling it « la Sancerroise ». Sancerre has a worldwide reputation for its white wine but now it has also gained a reputation for beers too.
Created in 2011, this brasserie is set up in the old abattoirs of the township of Sancerre and it is a family affair, mum looks after the administration, the marketing and looks after the on-site boutique, dad brews and the two sons help! They started with three types of beer and now brew more than 10! The beer called « La Sancerroise with green lentils from Berry » became an imediate success and was awarded a bronze medal at the agricultural show in 2004. Made essentially with local produce, the concept of the brasserie is from Austria.
Personnally I have tried them all and I like them all… but I have a preference for « la Sancerroise au Gruyt », a stout with lots of spices going back to the Middle Ages. I really like using it for making a dish called Carbonnade Flamande, meat cooked in beer with spiced bread and cinamom.
Following is the list of beer to taste at the shop and the choice…
Lou Pélou Chestnut and Gentian flavours and it is organic
La Sancerroise Val d’Or, Bitter
La Donzelle Bière Lager with Rosemanry
La bière de l’Abbaye du Jouir, Golden Lager abbey style beer
La Sans-gêne, Amber lager beer slighly red
Rose Blanche White Ale with wheat
For more information …
258 Route d’Amigny
Tel : 0248542991
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….