Categories

Cookery Courses

View our range of short and long Bath-based vegetarian and vegan cookery courses running throughout the year.

View cookery courses

Gift Vouchers

Buy gift vouchers for our vegetarian and vegan cooking courses in our online shop.

Buy a gift voucher today
 

Twitter

French Cooking & Eating Holiday May 2013

Just back from our 5th year at Chateau Ventenac with a fantastic group of very keen cooks on our French Cooking Holiday. We cooked a great deal with time to soak up the sunshine, walk along the Canal du Midi and relax with a glass of the local wine.

Pictures tell the story (there's a substantial photoset on Flickr), shame they can't let us smell and taste too. Pat suggested that we renamed the holiday ‘Cooking and EATING’ as we did ourselves proud with all the food we made and ate.

Glorious Poppies

The weather was glorious, during the day, warm enough to swim, with a little rain later in the evening, we ate dinner on the terrace, such a treat to sit outside, watching the sun set, the swifts swirling above to be replaced by bats as night fell.

Dinner on the terrace

Dinner on the terrace

Each day we focused on specific topics, with bread and knife skills to start.

Making Fougasse

Making Fougasse

We made fougasse, a type of bread from Provence, which we topped with herbs from Julia’s garden: thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram and lavender. It must be the sun, as the herbs had a far stronger perfume than they do at home.

We used the same dough to make a stuffed fougasse, filled with onion, garlic, asparagus, green olives, capers and topped with asparagus spears and Roquefort or Camembert.

Stuffed Fougasse

Later, we started the brioche dough - I must say it always shocks me how much butter is added.  This dough was left overnight in the fridge to rise slowly. Meanwhile, our sourdough starter  bubbled away, with the warmth here doesn’t take long to get going.

For lunch we made Socca/farinata, a type of gram flour (chickpea flour) flatbread or pancake, flavoured with artichokes, thyme and tarragon. Socca is such a wonderful food, gluten-free and vegan and rather like a firm omelette in texture.

We made pistou, like a French pesto, with garlic, basil, fresh radish tops and parsley.The radish tops were so fresh we chopped them up and added them to the pistou.

The colours of our salads looked vibrant in the bright Southern French light.

Cucumber, radish & mint salad

Cucumber, radish & mint salad

We always have cooking challenges on our holidays. Our two taste challenges for this week were (1) to convert beetroot and fennel dis-likers and (2) to make gluten-free dishes that tasted great and worked.

For gluten-free recipes we made Socca, Polenta Pissaladiere and griddled Polenta Cakes and Corn fritters. We rolled fritters in polenta rather than breadcrumbs and made a lovely gluten-free pastry that I had learnt at Ashburton (thank you, Rob)!

Finely sliced beetroot, delicate colours

Finely sliced beetroot, delicate colours

In the afternoon, Jo taught knife skills and we prepped baby artichokes and sliced coloured beetroot thinly with a mandolin.

Market Challenge Vegetables

Market Challenge Vegetables "face group"

Narbonne Market Day

One of the highlights of the week is the Market challenge: two groups, two baskets, 25 euros each to choose and buy vegetables for a main meal and a cheese.They must not spend over the allotted amount (some groups do!) but this year they kept to the limit. Jo and I drank café crèmes at the coffee stall in the market and enthused over vegetables while the groups secretively shopped.

Back at the chateau, they arranged their purchases and then planned their menus and very creative they were.

Meera, Rachel, Estelle & Patrick made:

  • Babaganush
  • Japanese Katsu Pumpkin, Sweet potato & Aubergine fritters with curry sauce & sticky rice
  • Vietnamese Lettuce Parcels filled with julineed vegetables with a satay sauce

Market Challenge Vegetables 'Mediterranean'

Market Challenge Vegetables 'Mediterranean'

Leah, Pat, Sarah & Jenny made:

  • Chicory, Orange, Radish & pinenut Salad
  • Stuffed Peppers with a Moorish Quinoa filling
  • Tomatoes filled with puy lentils, courgettes & Mediterranean  herbs

Chicory, Orange, Radish & pinenut Salad

Narbonne Market Salad

Pastry Day

With cool hands we made pate brisse to make Leek tarts with a green olive and almond tapenade, topped with goats cheese & thyme & pate sucree for Lemon & Almond Tarts.

Pat, Leah & Meera filling the leek tarts

Pat, Leah & Meera filling the leek tarts

Tarte aux Poireaux et Tapenade

Tarte aux Poireaux et Tapenade

Cucumber with borage flowers

Cucumber with borage flowers

Colourful Lunch

Colourful Lunch

Dinner served on the terrace

our last Supper, served on the terrace

Our last Supper and what a spread:

Sourdough bread, potato dauphinoise with french turnips, polenta with cooked batavia lettuce, tomato, red pepper & aubergine gratin, fennel roasted with lemon & sumac, beetroot with herbs & the hottest Aji chilli sauce!

and our cookery group photo.... Thank you all for making it such an enjoyable foodie week

Rachel & Jo

For many more French photos visit our Cookery School Flickr page.

Cookery Group Photo May 2013

Cookery Group Photo May 2013

Comments

Pattie Thornley on 14th May 2013 said:

Brings back memories. But Im waiting for you cookery holiday in Greece!!

Reply to this comment

Urvashi on 18th May 2013 said:

Looks like a veritable feast every day!

Reply to this comment

Rachel on 22nd May 2013 said:

2014 planning for with herb walks too

Reply to this comment