French Regional Cooking: Provence

Haven’t updated my blog for a long time.

After my last Cookshop experience, my other friend and I decided to try the French cooking. Everything tasted pretty good, I thought. We were divided into groups where each group was responsible for different dishes.

Here was the menu:

  • Olive tapenade on crostini
  • Bouillabaisse – Classic French seafood stew of fish, shellfish, tomatoes saffron & garlic
  • Roasted Leg of Lamb Provencal – with garlic, olive oil and herbs de Provence
  • Ratatouille – seasonal vegetable stew cooked with garlic and herbs
  • Apricot Frangipane Tart – a sweet tart with an apricot and almond filling

Our group made the tapenade and roasted leg of lamb. I am actually not a big fan of olives but this appetizer was better than I expected and the method was very easy – just blending the ingredients together to form a paste. It was served on a sourdough bread. The saltiness of the olives was offset by the sweetness of the dried apricots, but still quite salty though.

I really enjoyed the Bouillabaisse, the stew was very aromatic and flavourful with all the fresh seafood. The rouille on the toast had to be rescued – the oil separated the first time so the chef had to take time to whisk it by hand so it forms properly.

The roasted leg of lamb and ratatouille was served together. Since there wasn’t a sauce of the lamb, the ratatouille served as the a side with a sauce for the meat – worked quite well. The leg of lamb was trimmed of excess fat and butterflied so it cooked faster than whole and bone-in. It was then rubbed with salt, pepper and herb de Provence and roasted to medium rare – so tender and juicy!  The chef told us that there is no herb de Provence in France because it is a herb blend of whatever they grew in Provence (I didn’t know that). I loved the ratatouille, it is a delicious and versatile side dish, very easy to prepare as well.

The original dessert on the menu was the apricot frangipane tart but here we used a plum instead because it was in season. This was delicious – the almond and plum went together very well. It is usually served at room temperature but since we didn’t have time to cool it before serving, we had it slightly warm and topped with whipped cream. The tenderness of the plum and filling with the crunch of the toasted almonds and sugar was so good. I would totally remake this. Apparently this tart is also very good with pears. One of tips of making this tart is that you have to adjust the sweetness according to the tartness/sweetness of the fruit you are using.

I was quite full after the yummy meal. I always thought French food was difficult to prepare but after this class, I have more confidence in tackling French food recipes! 😀

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