Tag Archives: France

Marmelade d’oranges sanguines – marmellata d’ arance sanguine – blood orange marmalade

During my last visit to France I travelled through Alsace with friends. This is France’s great wine growing region that produces great Rieslings and there were a couple of wineries I wanted  to visit.

Located in a typical Alsatian,  small village called Niedermorschwihr, I went to sample the wines of Albert Boxler.

Wine brings out the best in me and there I met a person who like me was also very interested in food and he asked me if I had visited Christine Ferber’s Au Relais des Trois Epis in the main street of this tiny town.

Until then, and much to my embarrassment I did not know about Christine Ferber or her recipe books, but I had certainly heard the names of some famous culinary greats who have championed her delicious creations such as Parisian pastry star Pierre Hermé, and chefs Alain Ducasse, the Troisgros family, and Antoine Westermann.

Christine Ferber is a master patissière but who is mostly recognised for her quality confitures – she is France’s revered jam maker.

Although her épicerie it is in the main street, it is so tiny and unassuming that I almost missed it.

Apart from the books she has written, the cakes, pastries, traditional breads and jams that she makes, it makes sense that in such a small town Ferber has other stock.

In her shop I saw  ready-made/ take- away food, fruit and vegetables, newspapers, cheeses, small-goods, chocolates, pots, pans and  local pottery.

One of the reasons that Ferber is so highly respected by her culinary peers is that she employs locals and sources local produce – she is from Niedermorschwihr and is a forth generation pastry chef who took over the family business from her father.  Of course the fruit she uses for her confitures is  seasonal and she makes it in small batches in her small commercial kitchen behind the shop. It is cooked  in a relatively small copper cauldron and distributed into jars by hand so that the any solid fruit is evenly distributed in the jars. By making small batches of jam she is in better control of adding the correct amount of sugar – as we all know not all batches of the same type of fruit are the same – they vary in quantity and quality of  ripeness , juice, sweetness and pectin. Ferber usually uses apples to add pectin to fruit lacking in pectin.

I suspect that  Ferber also relishes the quality she achieves through her small-scale production and the satisfaction that comes from having contributed to the making of each batch of jam herself.

When I visited, Ferber had been making Blood orange marmalade – oranges sanguine in French.   I an very fond of  Blood Oranges and  I was introduced to them as a child in Sicily. They are called arance sanguine in Italian. In Sicily,  they are cultivated extensively in the eastern part of the island. 

 Marmelade d’oranges sanguines – Blood orange marmalade, 220 g ( See recipe below)

Description:The blood orange marmalade is very balanced and less bitter than traditional marmalade.
Ingredients: Blood oranges, sugar, apple pectin, lemon juice.
Origin: Alsace, France
Brand:Christine Ferber
Producer: Christine Ferber and her team prepare these wonderful jams in Niedermorschwihr, a small village nestled in the heart of vines. Not more than four kilograms of fruits are processed in copper pots for jams that have convinced the greatest chefs.

Blood Orange from Mes Confitures : The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber

Ingredients:
About 2 3/4 pounds (1.2 kg) blood oranges, or 2 cups 1 ounce (500g/50cl) juice
1 3/4 pounds (750g) Granny Smith apples
4 2/3 cup (1 kg) sugar plus 1 cup (200 g)
3 cups 2 ounces (750 g/75 cl) water plus 7 ounces (200 g/20 cl)
2 oranges
Juice of 1 small lemon

Directions:
Rinse the apples in cold water. Remove the stems and cut them into quarters without peeling them. Put them in a preserving pan and cover with 3 cups 2 ounces (75 g/75 cl) water.
Bring the apple mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. The apples will be soft.
Collect the juice by pouring the preparation into a chinois sieve, pressing lightly on the fruit with the back of the skimmer. Filter the juice a second time by pouring it through cheesecloth previously wet and wrung out, letting the juice run freely.  It is best to leave the juice overnight refrigerated.

Next day…

Measure 2 cups 1 ounce (500 g/50 cl) juice, leaving in the bowl the sediment that formed overnight, to have clearer jelly.
Squeeze the 2 3/4 pounds (1.2 kg) blood oranges. Measure 2 cups 1 ounces (500 g/50 cl) juice and put the seeds into a cheesecloth bag.
Rinse and brush the 2 oranges in cold water and slice them into very thin rounds. In a preserving pan, poach the rounds with 1 cup (200 g) sugar and 7 ounces (200 g/20 cl) water. Continue cooking at a boil until the slices are translucent.
Add the apple juice, 4 2/3 cups (1 kg) sugar, lemon juice, and seeds in the cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim. Continue cooking on high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Skim again if need be. Remove the cheesecloth with the seeds. Return to a boil. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.

Yield: 6-7 8-ounce jars (220 g)

One of the delights of Alsace were the numerous storks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RADISH (RAVANELLO OR RAPANELLO)

This photo of this bunch of radishes was taken in France.

I was in France with friends and stayed in Mercadiol (a small hamlet) in the South West of France. It is the same restored barn that Stephanie Alexander stayed (with Maggie Beer and Colin her husband) when she researched material for her book Cooking & Travelling in the South-West France.

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My friends and I sampled much of the local cuisine, but we also enjoyed shopping in the local markets in the various nearby towns and villages and cooked some fabulous dishes together.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this variety of radish for sale at one of my favourite vegetable stalls at the market. Carmel, one of the stall’s proprietors proudly announced that a couple of her customers had said that they had seen this variety in France. She was pleased to hear that I verified this and had a photo of them.

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The following is a section from the vegetable chapter from my manuscript to be published in 2011.

Radish (ravanello or rapanello) is another vegetable that is probably over-looked in Australia – they are available all year round but are sweeter in spring. Radishes should be crisp, juicy, and peppery with sparkling white flesh.

My father grew them in his small garden in Adelaide because they reminded him of the times when he was a boy growing up in Sicily and he would help himself to the radish patch. When in Sicily, if in spring, it is quite common in people’s homes to be presented with small, firm radishes with fresh, unblemished tops at the beginning of a meal. Serve with a separate small bowl of salt, or extra virgin olive oil and salt, for dipping. Other tender vegetables such as broad beans, fennel or peas are also commonly placed on the table in the same way – it is a celebration of the vegetable and the season.

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Last week, my friend The Old Foodie wrote about radish.

When I select bunches of radish or kohlrabi, baby turnips or beetroot I partly select them for the quality of their leaves. In fact I cooked the leaves from the bunch of radish and baby turnips the night before you posted your blog – I sauté them in extra virgin olive oil and garlic.My father used to grow radishes in his garden and used to collect the young leaves for salads – not to be eaten alone, but as part of a mixed salad. He also grew rocket and radicchio and chicory and collected ‘salad ‘ leaf by leaf. And I support the theory that radish was used to stimulate appetite. My father used to talk about Sicilians just presenting a bowl of radishes (in season and fresh) with salt (to dip the radish into) before a meal.

Antipasto (or nibbles) before a meal is still not a common practice in Sicily, it is a modern invention, stimulated by tourists and their expectations. Because Sicilians to always begin a meal with a primo (first course), which for the majority of the time is pasta; they do not wish to spoil their appetite. The primo is followed by a secondo (main) and then fruit, and dessert for special occasions. A few nibbles, for example olives, a few cubes of marinaded pecorino could be the ‘nibbles’ for special occasions or part of an extended meal.

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SALADE COMPOSÉE (A French mixed salad)

salad compose

The French seem to enjoy salade composée either as an entrée as a light meal. I know I am stereopyping and I hate it when others discuss food preferred by the Italians or the Sicilians, so I will begin again.

When I was in Paris in September and while in the South West of France I ate my way through many servings of salade composée. This refers to a salad in which an assortment of ingredients with a balance of colours, flavours and textures arranged aesthetically on a plate and drizzled with a tasty vinaigrette. It is likely to be composed of a variety of seasonal fresh and cooked vegetables and one or a combination of meats, fish, eggs, nuts or cheese.

In the history of French cuisine, I know that presenting salads is fairly recent, but everywhere I went there seemed to be salade composée.

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I stayed with my partner and two friends in La Vieille Grange in Mercadiol (a small hamlet) in the South West of France. It is the same restored barn that Stephanie Alexander stayed (with Maggie Beer and Colin her husband) when she researched material for her book Cooking & Travelling in the South-West France.

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The cooking of South West of France is rooted in historical tradition, seasonal produce and nothing is wasted. Apart from a good selection of salad leaves there were other vegetables: potatoes and tiny green beans. Some had cured pork products as well, and of course many had walnuts. So important was the vinaigrette, perhaps made with a combination of walnut oil, olive oil and wine vinegar.

In that location of France I sampled much of the local food and there were plenty of duck’s gizzards, but these were often mixed with other duck meat: pan-fried breasts, smoked or air dried breasts, stuffed necks, confit, terrines, fois products and whole livers. Pan-fried duck livers are so good when cooked properly. (I soak the whole, cleaned livers in milk for about four hours before frying them in a little duck fat, then deglaze them with a little Armagnac, wine or vinegar and then add them and any caremelised juices from the pan to the vinaigrette).

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I was very fortunate to attend a class at Le Cordon Bleu Academie D’Art Culinaire in Paris and even there, Le Chef cooked Salade de Pigeon Landase, vinaigrette de son jus as an entrée. The main component was squab breast cooked rare in goose fat. The rest of the squab was braised with shallots, carrots and bouquet garni and then drained. The meat was presented on lambs lettuce, watercress, raw mushrooms and toasted pine nuts. The vinaigrette was the squab jus mixed with red wine vinegar, hazelnut oil and a little mustard. We were presented with what Le Chef cooked, and it was superb.

I always add seasonal vegetables to my salade composée. Because it is spring, I add vegetables such as broad beans, asparagus, peas, zucchini. I also add fresh herbs and a mixture of leaves, sweet, bitter and pungent (eg watercress, rocket, lambs lettuce).

Eating a salad (such as a salade composée) at the start to a meal would be very unusual in Sicily, but they may eat a caponata on its own accompanied by some very good bread.

SICILY, PARIS and SOUTH WEST FRANCE

The converted barn La Vieille Grange in Mercadiol

I have been overseas for four weeks. Australia is indistinct, and I have eaten far too much in Sicily and France.

These are photos of the converted barn La Vieille Grange where I stayed with my partner and two friends in Mercadiol (a small hamlet) in the South West of France. It is the same restored barn that Stephanie Alexander stayed (with Maggie Beer and Colin her husband) when she researched material for her book Cooking & Travelling in South-West France. Together with our two friends, we too did a lot of cooking in this house – definitely  inspired by the local produce.

I sampled much of the local food and my best eating experience was at Le Pont de L’Oussey, a restaurant mentioned in Stephanie’s book.

Prior to this I was in Paris and through a friend I was privileged to be able to attend a session at Le Cordon Bleu, Academie De Paris.

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Before that I spent time in Palermo and Castellammare del Golfo in Sicily. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Taylor Simeti and her charming husband; Mary is the writer I consider to be one of the best authorities on Sicilian cuisine.

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I saw this installation by  Francesco Simeti  at an exhibition in Palermo in the Regional Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Palazzo Belmonte Riso).

As you can see I have plenty to write about in my blog and will try to do this in the next following weeks.

Thank you, to those of you who through my blog expressed sympathy about having my laptop stolen in Paris and missing my blogs. Most of the Sicilian photos of Sicilian food that I had downloaded on my laptop are lost, but I have plenty of photos from the many frequent trips to Sicily that I can use.

Marisa.

PARIS

I will not be writing the blog for a while (for about a month). This is because shortly after I arrived in Paris from Sicily, one of my travel bags was snatched just outside the station. Along with our passports, the bag also contained my laptop with all of my information and notes and most importantly the latest draft of my maunscript on Sicilian food, plus the photos taken on this trip!

I don’t have a computer to work on and it is too difficult to work on the only computer in the hotel lobby.

I was going to write about the better restaurants I ate in, in Sicily: La Cambusa in Castellammare del Golfo and Casa del Brodo in Palermo. I was also going to compare the ‘innovative’ version of cous cous at the Charleston and what I ate at La Cambusa and the one I ate in Paris last night.

I will now take lots of photos in the South West of France (around the Dordogne) but will not be able to write until I can replace my computer after I get back to Australia.

Apologies to all my readers – I know from my blog stats that many of you are reading this from all parts of the world, not just Australia.