Right now I’m in bed. I have just said goodbye and goodnight to 15 lovely people who traveled quite far to be here. The last few days we’ve spent our time together cooking, eating, sharing stories and laughter in my kitchen and at our big table in the harvest room. That’s what we do here at 1 rue de Loudenne. Cook, eat and enjoy. And drink good wine of course.
Last week I was in Paris, at Colette, in a very different setting, cooking the same recipes, offering the same wine and some of the same mood to those who cared for it. It was strangely rewarding. Waking up at 5 in the morning to bake chocolate cake or orange cake in a typical tiny Parisian kitchen, then heading to the Palais Royal, where our friends from Verjus, Braden and Laura, generously lent us their kitchen to prepare quails, ducks and celeriac soup. Then we somehow moved it all to Colette where we applied the final touches.
It was, quite literally, a moveable feast.
The occasion was of course the publication of my new cookbook, French Country Cooking. It’s only coming out on the 25th but this was an “avant premiere” and I must admit that I was a little nervous. To cook for over 50 people every day, to showcase my new book that I’ve put so much love and effort into. Every day I got the chance to meet so many readers of the blog and at the end of it all we had an official book signing where I met the most wonderful people.
All this had made me think of my book in a slightly different way. And not just my book, any cookbook. They are all, in their own way, moveable feasts. To think that in the coming weeks, people all over the world will be receiving my book in their mail, picking up a copy at their local bookstore, flicking through it and most importantly, cooking from it. This Christmas somebody’s feast will be made from my book and I must say that it’s quite a privilege and one that I never expected.
Over the last year I have talked a lot about the story of the house we live in, which is also partly the story of the book. I have, however, always said that the most important thing in a cookbook are the recipes, that they come to life in someone’s kitchen, end up on someone’s plate, bring people together at the table. Any table. People and Food.
Right now we are entering the final hours before the official publication day, Tuesday the 25th of October. Which means this is the last chance to preorder it and get our little notebook.
Anyone who preorders the book before October 25th will get a special, pocket-sized notebook for keeping notes and planning meals.
To receive the notebook all you have to do is sign up here and provide proof that you have preordered French Country Cooking. The many who have already preordered the book are of course also eligible for the notebook.
‘French Country Cooking‘ available for preorder at:
And for Canada
Here are 2 recipes from my new cookbook ‘French Country Cooking’
Comté, Ham, and Walnut Feuilleté
If I were teaching at a French cooking school, this dish would be on the curriculum;
it’s the perfect crowd-pleaser, and it uses so many wonderful French ingredients.
Take the best cheese and ham you can find. Make a velvety béchamel sauce. Add
some moist, tender walnuts just out of the shell. Wrap everything in puff pastry, one
of the most agreeable inventions of French cuisine, and bake it. I knew you’d like it.
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon / 35 g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
fine sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
1 cup / 250 ml whole milk
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 50 g walnuts, chopped
8 ounces / 230 g frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2/3 cup / 100 g grated comté cheese
5 ounces / 150 g sliced ham
1 large egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until the mixture thickens. Add the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and gradually whisk in the milk and simmer, whisking until thickened, up to 5 minutes. Set the béchamel sauce aside to cool.
In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the walnuts and cook for 1 minute more.
Cut the puff pastry into two 9 x 5-inch / 23 x 12.5 cm rectangles. Place one rectangle of pastry on the lined baking sheet. Spread ½ teaspoon of the mustard in a thin layer over the pastry. Spread with one-third of the béchamel sauce, half of the cheese, half of the ham, and half of the walnut mixture. Repeat the layering. Finish with a layer of béchamel sauce and top with the second pastry rectangle. Seal to the bottom rectangle by pinching together the edges of the pastry.
Beat the egg yolk with a little water and use it to glaze the top with a pastry brush. Using a knife, cut a little round hole in the middle of the pastry to let the steam escape. You can decorate the top with cut pieces of puff pastry (leaves, for example) or lightly score a diamond pattern on top.
Bake the feuilleté in the oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice and serve hot.
Roast Chicken with Chestnuts and Cabbage
I have a few staple roast chicken recipes that I use all the time. One is simple, with
thyme and lemon; another one is rich, with a lot of crème fraîche and delicious
herbs. I didn’t really need a third one, but I came up with this recipe because I was
looking for something festive, almost like a pheasant or guinea hen—which means
chestnuts, my favorite. Finally, I needed a way to use up all that cabbage that my husband
keeps growing and buying (because he says it’s the most photogenic vegetable
in the world). This chicken dish is the answer.
For the chicken
1 whole chicken (3 ½ pounds/1.5 kg)
4 tablespoons / 60 g salted butter
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
8 peeled cooked chestnuts (bottled or vacuum-packed)
For the cabbage
1 head savoy cabbage (dark green leaves discarded), cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm strips
20 ounces / 570 g peeled
cooked chestnuts (bottled or vacuum-packed)
5 tablespoons / 75 g unsalted butter
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup / 80 ml chicken stock
1/3 cup / 80 ml dry white wine
Roast the chicken. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Rub the chicken with the salted butter and season generously both inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the garlic cloves, thyme, onion halves, bay leaf, and chestnuts in the cavity. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 50 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a big plate; it will not be fully cooked just yet and will be returned to the oven later, so leave the oven on but increase the temperature to 400 F / 200 C.
Make the cabbage. Keep all the fat and juices in the roasting pan and add the cabbage, chestnuts, and 4 tablespoons / 60 g of the unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together. Return to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
Pour in the stock and wine and stir to combine. Brush the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon / 15 g butter to gloss the skin and return to the pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.
Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving with the cabbage and chestnuts.