May 29, 2017

Claufoutis aux Cerises Recipe for When Life Gives You a Bowl of Cherries

Claufoutis aux Cerises Recipe for When Life Gives You a Bowl of Cherries

Spring starts early in the south of France. Nutmeg was shocked to learn that the cherries on the neighbours’ tree would be ready to eat by the middle of May!! Under perfect conditions, local BC cherries only start arriving in Calgary farmers markets in mid-July. Sure enough the white flowering trees quickly turned to producing the luscious red fruit, and all of a sudden the orchards were laden with produce. The problem with cherries is you can only eat so many before they start spoiling. The cherry is a stone fruit within the Prunus species, related to plums and apricots. As a fruit, the cherry has been consumed for millenniums, with references even in Roman times. There are numerous varieties of cherries globally. However, the most commonly known strains in North America are the wild cherry (or sweet cherry) and the sour cherry. The red pigment in cherries is called anthocyanin, and it has been shown to provide some pain relief and reduce inflammation. (more…)

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May 16, 2016

Provence’s Olives Start to Finish

Provence’s Olives Start to Finish

Ginger has long loved olives, for their salty taste.  Nutmeg’s appreciation for olives has been acquired in recent years and certainly more so after spending time in Provence.  The olive tree is probably as old as the earth and may have even been one of the plants in the “Garden of Eden”. The Olive Story will give you more details on olives, if you are interested. Nutmeg is fascinated by the olive, for it’s history, the tiny spring buds, the wide-spread use in Mediterranean cooking and of course because they taste fabulous. The following post is a photo expose and a new favourite recipe in honour of the olive. (more…)

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May 9, 2016

Aioli On Fridays in Provence

Aioli On Fridays in Provence

Aioli is the name of a garlic mayonnaise.  Aioli is also a traditional Provencal dish that was typically served on Fridays.  The classic dish le grand “Aïoli” Provençal is served with salted cod and potatoes. A meal suitable for the days of penance. Practised cooks would methodically re-hydrate the cod and transform it back into an edible protein. The preparation of the traditional ingredients requires time to soak and desalinate the cod. This process involves removing the excess salt, cutting the cod in pieces, and soaking in fresh water for up to 15 hours (changing the water 2-3 times). Once the salt is removed the fish is poached gently in a pot with milk and water. The cod should not boil as it becomes rubbery. Interested yet? You should be! (more…)

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May 25, 2015

Couscous takes over French Favourites

Couscous takes over French Favourites

Forget magret de canard and moules frites – couscous served with its savoury slow-cooked stews is popular in French cuisine. It was voted France’s 3rd favourite meal in a study conducted for Vie Pratique Gourmand (2011). There are references to couscous consumption in France that date as far back as 1630 (Toulon) and 1699 (Brittany). (more…)

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November 10, 2014

What is Cooking in Palm Springs at Le Vallauris

What is Cooking in Palm Springs at Le Vallauris

Without water, movie stars and artists Palm Springs, California would not exist. In many ways neither would the Cote d’Azur town of Vallauris in France. Le Vallauris owner Paul Bruggemans was born in Belgium where he studied culinary arts at the Ecole d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme in Liege. Sunny California lured him away from overcast Northern European skies. In 1970, he and his partner opened Le St. Germain on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Just two years, later they decided to open a second restaurant, but they could not agree on the location between Palm Springs and Newport Beach. The answer was decided by the flip of a coin – lucky for Palm Springs. (more…)

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May 12, 2014

A Ride Through History in the Dordogne

A Ride Through History in the Dordogne

Nutmeg loves France and Ginger tolerates her passion. The way they manage to find moderately stable ground within the quicksand of their personal interests is in those moments when friends come to visit. These encounters are an anchor with the familiar, and the ballast that settles a slightly rocky boat. Sometimes, they are able to convince those friends to explore with them. One recent occasion was a group bike trip through the now tranquil Dordogne, a region of France that once was the subject of violent tug-a-wars between French and English forces. Either, these were good friends or they were desperate for a vacation as the general descriptions for each day were as follows: • Moderately hilly • Mostly hilly • The odd flat section • Steep hills Maybe, it was the draw of history or the promise of wine, but they all came to discover historical Dordogne. (more…)

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January 6, 2014

The Art of Provencal Tables

The Art of Provencal Tables

The joys of easy entertaining: Simple food Great flavours Easy laughter And not too many dishes Doesn’t that sound perfect? If you want to enjoy your guests and not waste a whole day cooking, keep reading. (more…)

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November 4, 2013

A-Z for Beaune’s Legacy of Wine and Charity

A-Z for Beaune’s Legacy of Wine and Charity

The Gallo-Romans should be thanked for introducing grapevines to Burgundy, now part of France. Religious orders of monks dedicated years of effort to clear heavily forested land and rid rocky soil of stones. A reputation of fine wine production was established by the 14C and continues… (more…)

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May 13, 2013

Ancient Apricots

Ancient Apricots

Literally as old as the hills, the fruit of the apricot tree are confirmed to have been domesticated since the Bronze Age. Although, the exact origin of the tree is debated; there is evidence of consumption of the fruit in both China and India between 3-4,000 B.C. the apricot in dry format was certainly exchanged along Persian trade routes. the scientific name, is Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum), likely as a result of the ubiquitous presence in Armenia since antiquity. The fruit was eventually introduced to the Greeks and then adopted by the Romans. (more…)

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April 22, 2013

What Happened To The Baguette

What Happened To The Baguette

The iconic vision of a French man or woman walking home with their baguette in hand is neither a myth nor a creation of the department in charge of French tourism. The classic baguette, long, thin, and crusty, remains an excellent carrier for fresh jam in the morning, or for soaking up tasty sauces at dinner. Although, French daily bread consumption per person has declined significantly from the early 1900s to about 120 grams, from as high as 900 grams, the mighty loaf still remains a vital part of the national diet. Despite the decline, that still is a lot of bread, over 23 million baguettes a day (8 billion a year) for 65 million people. Music to Nutmeg’s ears, by law bakeries in France, are not allowed to use preservatives in any bread. This means that boulangeries must bake several times a day, so their customers can always find a fresh loaf. The name baguette first appeared around 1890, although it seems that a long, thin loaf was made well before that time. A law established in March 1919 forbade the employment of bread and pastry workers between the hours of 10pm and 4am. The ordinary baguette is a simple mixture of all-purpose flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough once it has risen, is formed in a long length by hand, scored on the diagonal and baked in a hot (400F) deck oven. Steam injection, during baking, is the key to the crusty exterior. The size of baguette is not regulated, but mostly it falls between 65-70cm (25-27 inches) long and 6cm (2.5 inches) wide. The price of bread has not been government controlled since 1978. However, the combination of strong market competition and active consumer associations, ensures that what one pays for a regular baguette is fairly consistent. So here is the problem, the huge growth in large-scale grocery stores and multiple store bakery chains has created a highly competitive market place. The small, local boulangerie gets squeezed from all sides; “Goliath” grocery stores, rising wheat prices and fickle consumers. Today, consumers expect a wide variety of choices: sourdough, fibre, multi-grain, organic (bio), bran, rye etc.   The classic baguette remains on the bakers’ shelves as it would be suicidal for a boulangerie not to offer it among their inventory. So nothing has happened to the baguette, it still remains remarkably part of the culture in France, the quality might just not be what it used to be; however, there are lots of choices. [tfb username=’GingerandNutmeg’ count=’true’ lang=’en’ theme=’light’]

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