One week down and 7 more to go! We're preparing regional recipes of France and making all the famous traditional dishes from each area.
The most exciting demonstration so far has been the the recipes from Normandy. Aside from the fact that butter, cream, and hard cider are in everything (Emril would love Normandy) they use a lot of seafood in their regional dishes. One entrée that was prepared for us was Matelote Normand Au Cidre Brut (Fish Stew with Dry Cider). This creamy fish stew contains scallops, langoustines, crawfish, and sole.
If you've never cooked a live crawfish you're in for a treat. In order to remove their intestine before you cook them (alive, did I say alive?) you must pick them up (yuck!) and twist their tails like a key and push it up which allows you to pull out their intestine. After it's ripped out they writhe in pain...or something...apparently they don't have brains so they can't feel pain (is that true!?!?). Then you toss them into hot water and cook them quickly to put them out of their misery.
All the fish are fried quickly and then added to a soup made of fishstock, cream, butter and calvados. It actually tasted really good...but then again anything with butter and cream tastes pretty good.
My favorite dessert this week is also Normandian, Tarte Fine Aux Pommes et Beurre de Miel (Apple Tart with Honey Butter). It's a beautiful simple apple tart. You caramelize honey and add apples cores and skin (for pectin), hard cider, calvados, and butter and reduce. Then you fan thin apple slices over puff pastry rounds and bake for 8-10 minutes. After you spoon the sauce over. Yummy.
Best winter hearty recipe this week was the Cuisses de Lapin Mijotées Aux Carottes Fondantes et Flan de Pommes de Terre (Rabbit legs simmered with tender carrots and potato flan). Although it's hard for me to chomp on ole' Buggs Bunny, the flavors of the meat braised in red wine and veal stock are divine.
Apparently they serve carrots with it because that is what the animal likes to eat so it goes together well. That might be a myth, I'm not sure–it's hard to tell when the chefs are joking. Also the potato flan (made with eggs buter and cream) with fresh herbs is silky and very more-ish
The week went by fast and so far our huge group of 54 international people are getting along. Next week we eat our way through Provence! Horray for Olive Oil!!!