Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oldies Lunch

We had lunch today with about 75 other older persons. (don't like to say old folks or admit that I'm 69 & getting somewhat old myself) This is part of the Troisieme Age group which is very active and arranges various outings.

Lunch was held in the Salle de Fetes at Castenet which has a large meeting room and a commercial level kitchen. We sat at three long tables of roughly 25 people each. We started off with an aperitif, a kir, and greeting old friends and being introduced to new ones.

NOTE: Bread & red wine were on the table and were replenished as needed.

The first course was 'Soupe de Campagne', country soup with vegetables, white beans & ham chunks. Very tasty and served with sourdough bread.
Next came the 'foie gras' on toast. This is duck country so the portions were generous. Being foie gras we had a nice sweet wine from Gaillac to go with it. I still haven't quite got the hang of preparing foie gras, but I'm getting better. We can buy whole foies locally for about $15.00 per pound all you have to do is devein it & cook it.

THE special dish was the 'Estofinado'! This is a local Averyronaise speciality made from dried salted morue (cod). The fish is repeatedly soaked in water to rehydrate it, then combined with mashed potatoes, herbs and hard boiled eggs.
It is traditional to pour some walnut oil over the Estofinado. This also being walnut country our local table companions were quick to make sure that we not only poured the oil over, but tried the two different kinds of walnut oil on offer. Turns out that the man across the table still presses his own oil. I learned that it takes 3 kilos of nut to get one kilo of nut meat and that one kilo of nut meat makes a small (250 CC) bottle of oil. This adds to what I learned earlier about walnut oil. (see previous post) Here is a link that gives you more information and a recipe; Only available in French, but there are some other local recipes on the site as well. The dish is delicious and I had seconds; would of had more, but knew there was much more to come.

The plat was magret (duck breast) with a mushroom (cepes) sauce. Beautifully done and the sauces was great. Plentiful, again we were offered seconds.

Next came the cheese. A small selection, brie, cantal & Roquefort. Being a cheese addict I had a small piece of each.

Dessert was 'poirier' which sort of like a pear clafouti. Nice & moist. With the dessert came the liqueurs. Several varieties, but featuring a selection of home made Eau de Vies. Having been bitten in the past from these potent drinks I abstained.

Having eaten our fill we began to be entertained by songs, jokes & poetry from group members. The microphone was passed to whomever wanted to have a go. There were some good singer in the group and a lot of joining in on the choruses.Our problem was that much of this was in Occitan with the local accent. Impossible from us to understand; the local French is hard enough.

We had a great time including a good discussion about how bad George Bush is and a disagreement as to whether Sarco or Segouline would make a better President.

Such is life in rural France. Vive La France; I say!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Baked Clementines

Made these for desert last night. Think they turned out pretty well. The idea was that Linda wanted us to have desert for our friends, but didn't want many calories. The Clementines were my solution. They're in season now & are low calorie.

This dish is easy to make & can be done in stages. I finished it off just before our guests arrived as I wanted to serve it at room temperature, but didn't want the puff pastry to get limp sitting around. It worked out fine.


1 Clementine per person
1 Bottle sweet desert wine (A cheap Sauternes or similar)
a 2-3 inch long cinnamon stick
Ground cinnamon
A bit of Nutmeg
Sheet (s) of puff pastry (how much depends upon how many Clementines)
1 Teaspoon of honey per Clementine


  1. Scrape the zest off of the Clementines & reserve it.
  2. Carefully peel the Clementines. Try to keep them whole.
  3. Place the peeled Clementines in a pot, add the cinnamon stick, grate on a generous dose of Nutmeg then cover with the wine. (obviously its easier if you can make the Clementines just fit the pot in one layer.)
  4. Bring to a boil & simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Let the liquid cool for a bit then carefully lift out the Clementines and place them on a wire rack to drain & cool.
  6. Put the liquid back onto the heat, add the zest & reduce to about 1/4 of its volume.
  7. Roll out the puff pastry thinly then using a round template cut out roughly 6 inch diameter rounds of the pastry.
  8. Place a cooled Clementine in the centre of each round. Then drop a teaspoon of honey onto its centre. Sprinkle on ground cinnamon to taste. (be generous)
  9. Now wet the edge of the pastry then bring two sides together over the Clementine. Press to make a seal & make a small fold.
  10. Next bring one of the remaining sides up to the centre & press its two sides together. Do the same with the other side. ( The result should be a little parcel with 4 little wing like flaps of pastry.)
  11. Place your parcels on a baking tray and, optionally, sprinkle some ground cinnamon & powdered sugar over them for decoration.
  12. Bake a 375 degrees for roughly 20 minutes or until the pastry is nicely browned & crisp.
I served these at room temperature with whipped cream, but you could serve them hot and/or with crème fraîche. Just before serving I poured some of the reduced cooking liquid over each one.

Everybody seemed to enjoy the dish. It was light, but had a lot of flavour.

Try it & let me know what you think.