on the road

Provence – Part 2 – Cooking!

Cooking.  In France. In a traditional Provence Farmhouse. Am I dreaming? Nope!  It happened.  Thanks to our wonderful trip coordinators (France Just for You) Emilie booked us a wonderful experience!  Leaving our B&B after breakfast on August 24, we took a leisurely drive (not really). We found Catherine’s farmhouse after driving by it and then doubling back.  Her house is set back off the street and unless you are really looking for it, you’ll miss it.  Nestled in the trees with vineyards all around, it’s a beautiful setting.

Catherine's beautiful farmhouse in the Provence countryside
Catherine’s beautiful farmhouse in the Provence countryside

While we waited for Catherine to get set up for us, we enjoyed some coffee in her garden. Her beautiful garden.

Hanging in the garden
Hanging in the garden

Everything set, we headed into her kitchen.  Catherine’s kitchen is beautiful. Gorgeous copper pots hanging from the traditional yellow walls with blue trim.  Beautiful blue and white ceramic tiles adorned the walls.  I felt like I was in a Monet french painting!  Just gorgeous! SIgh.

Catherine's kitchen
Catherine’s kitchen

Catherine led us through a three-course meal. First, a wonderful chilled zucchini soup. Second, a delicious stuffed chicken breast. Finally a finish with a wonderful light dessert.  So, let’s dig in and get started.  Catherine put us both to work. I was more excited to see Scott working in the kitchen and learning a new skill.  Now, before you get all “oh how sweet”, Scott is actually a very good cook. He’s made dinner for me on more occasions than I can remember.  We both work long hours and my commute is over 2 hours (each way), so by the time I get home, I’m often too tired to do much.  If Scott is home before me he often has dinner on the go before I get in!  So, on days when I do have time (and energy) I love to cook yummy things for him!  Okay, back to our lesson…

We started with the soup. Cutting up zucchini and adding it all to a pot with some chicken (or vegetable) stock and a handful of arugula, a bit of salt & pepper and simmer away!  Once it was all cooked, we pureed the soup and Catherine set it on ice in the fridge to chill.  At serving time, we ladled it into beautiful martini glasses, dropped in 3 whole cherry tomatoes and garnished it with fresh arugula.  Result? A refreshing, delicious chilled soup!  So yummy!

Our yummy soup!
Our yummy soup!

Meanwhile, while the soup was chilling, we started the dessert.  Again, with gorgeous glasses, we crushed some high quality cookies – a cross between arrowroots and shortbread… is that even possible? Oh yes it is!  So, with the cookies in the bottom of the glass, we added the next layer – we whisked together mascarpone cheese and…. something I cannot remember (I’m SO sorry!) this ended up being a light fluffy treat, topped with fresh sliced peaches.  I didn’t even take a picture as I was too interested in eating it!  On the bright side, I’ve emailed Catherine and asked her for the recipes!! Once I get these from her, I’ll make it again and take a picture hopefully before it gets eaten!  Let’s move on.

While dessert was sitting in the fridge to stay cool, we started our main course.  Catherine gave us wonderful plump chicken breasts.  We slit these open making a pocket in one side. These were stuffed with a goat cheese mixture – yes, I don’t have the recipe for that either… it’s coming, I promise!. Suffice to say everything was smelling wonderful!  I love the smell of anything savory cooking!  So, once the chicken breasts were stuffed, each was then wrapped with prosciutto and ‘tacked’ shut with a toothpick.  After taking about a medium sized white onion and slicing it thinly, Catherine pulled out a large skillet.  With a good splash of olive oil in the skillet and getting it heated up, we added the onions to the sound of that wonderful sizzle.  The chicken breasts were placed on top of the onions and we let the chicken cook. Once cooked, the chicken and prosciutto became one (oh yes, oh yummy, oh so yummy) and the onions were caramelized.  Catherine put on the polenta and got that going.

Prepping, with our Aussie cooking mate Kathy!
Prepping, with our Aussie cooking mate Kathy!
Under Catherine's watchful and expert eye!
Under Catherine’s watchful and expert eye!

 

DSC_0078

 

cooking the chicken!
cooking the chicken!

 

Scott, Kathy (our Aussie cooking mate!) and I got set up outside in the garden and were eagerly awaiting our zucchini soup. Mostly we were looking forward to the chicken.  As you can see, below, the chicken looked AMAZING, the side of caramelized onions were sweet, and the polenta was amazing!

The final result!  Looks yummy doesn't it?  It was!!!
The final result! Looks yummy doesn’t it? It was!!!

Over dessert and coffee, we talked. We compared cultures. And despite the differences and language barrier, we all agreed on one thing – neither KFC nor McDonald’s is REAL food!  We really couldn’t sit around all day, well we could but we didn’t want to wear out our welcome, and so goodbyes were said and we headed out to find Gourdes.

This cooking time in France was a real highlight for both Scott and me. Scott learned something new about using fresh garlic (darn, all my secrets are getting out!) and I learned a new way of doing chicken that was moist (from cooking over the onions) and delicious.  I’ll be making this recipe the next time we have guests for dinner.  Start to finish.

Thank you Catherine!  Nous avons eu un très bon moment et j’ai vraiment apprécié vous rencontrer!

I hope I said this correct: We had a very good time and really enjoyed meeting you.

Happy noshing!

2 thoughts on “Provence – Part 2 – Cooking!”

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