Just waiting for our group to arrive so that we can tie on our aprons and cook our first dinner together in the Paris kitchen.
Today we spent a couple of hours wandering the streets of our neighbourhood, picking up the items we needed for our cooking class tonight. From our shopping list we found duck breasts for searing and oranges to make an accompanying sauce. We bought potatoes, comté, cream and garlic for a gratin dauphinois. We picked up some lovely endives and some tangy Fourme d’Ambert for our salad course. We found some beautiful strawberries that will be paired with a caramel vinegar sauce, mint and a few grinds of black pepper for dessert.
Then there were a few things that were not on the list but looked so good that there was no way we couldn’t pack them up and bring them home as well (rhubarb tart anyone?).
Today I am posting the recipe for one of the duck recipes that we will be preparing tonight. We couldn’t decide between doing a seared magret de canard or a really easy duck confit so we figured we would just do both.
Tomorrow we are off to discover the sweet side of Paris. See you then!
Duck Breast with Orange Sauce
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
3 13 ounce (390 g) duck breasts, skin scored almost to the meat
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oranges peeled and segmented
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley to garnish
Place the orange juice in medium, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Check often to ensure that your juice isn’t reducing too quickly. When the juice has reduced to the proper consistency, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees (205 C). Season the duck breast well with salt and pepper.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the duck breasts, skin side down and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the skin is golden and most of the fat has rendered. Transfer to a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 6 to 7 minutes for medium rare, or until cooked to your liking. Rest, covered for 5 minutes.
While the duck is resting, reheat the reduced orange juice over low heat. Quickly whisk in the cubes of cold butter, working on and off the heat so that it emulsifies into the orange juice, causing it to thicken slightly. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Keep sauce warm.
Place the orange segments in a bowl and toss with the oil and vinegar and some salt and pepper.
Slice the duck crosswise on the bias and arrange the pieces on individual warmed plates or on a platter. Top with the orange segments and parsley sprigs, then drizzle on the orange sauce.
Today was a free day for our group. Some of us went on a bike tour around the city, others relaxed, had lunch with friends or set out to see the Eiffel Tower and take in an evening show.
Seems like the perfect time to post a recipe!
Here is a dish from our Parisian Sunday lunch yesterday. Moules marinères which we served with sliced baguettes. Such a quintessentially French dish that is also so simple to make. The toughest part to this recipe is cleaning the mussels! (thanks Jill, Joyce, Cathy and Natalie).
Tomorrow we are heading off on a culinary tour of our neighbourhood and will be cooking a dinner all together here at the flat. We are doing a duo of duck. Stay tuned.
Mussels in White Wine
A versatile recipe based on the classic French moules marinières this can be served with lots of crusty baguette to soak up the flavourful both or over cooked spagetti for a more hearty meal.
6 lbs (2.75 kg) mussels
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 bunch thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 cups good white wine
Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Rinse the mussels under cold running water while scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Remove the stringy mussel beards from each mussel with your fingers. Discard any mussels whose shells are broken or not tightly closed.
Heat the butter and the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes until softened but do not brown the leeks. Add the minced garlic, dried chilli flakes, tomatoes, parsley, thyme bundle and wine. season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Add the cleaned mussels, stir well and cover the pot. Cook over medium- high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all of the mussels open. With the lid on, shake the pot once or twice to ensure that the mussels don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and discard any mussels that do not open.
Serve hot with lots of crusty bread.
Here are a few photos from today. Lots of food on the agenda starting with a trip to one of our favourite outdoor markets and ending with a hands on cooking class where we prepared a french themed lunch at the apartment.
Our group headed off to the Marché Raspail which is located in the 6th arrondissement and is one of the biggest and best known organic marché volant (roving markets) in the city. It is an inspiring place on a Sunday morning with beautiful produce, fresh fish and seafood, a huge array of cheeses, baked goods, prepared foods like roasted chickens and savory pies, flowers, pots of herbs and even some lovely Parisian scarves. Lots of people, lots of buying and selling and there was even a French bulldog or two in the crowd.
After the market we headed back to the apartment to prepare for our first hands on cooking class of the trip. We planned a simple lunch that highlighted some of our purchases from the Raspail Market as well as some of our local Montmartre food shops.
We started by making some alsatian tarts that we topped with a truffled scented mâche salad which we enjoyed with a lovely rosé from Provence. Next up was a huge bowl of moules marinières (mussels in white wine, leeks, garlic and thyme), served with some crusty baguettes. Alongside the baguettes we decided to taste test three french demi-sel butter (Echire, Bordier, and Paysan Breton) and then moved on to a green salad with tarragon, toasted walnuts and a shallot and Dijon vinaigrette. For dessert we made chocolate truffles and also enjoyed slices of an apple tart and a strawberry tart brought by two of the guests.
Everyone in the group insisted on helping with the clean-up (thanks you guys!) before drifting off to visit museums, or take a walk, or have a late afternoon nap.
Tomorrow is a free day and so some of us are going for a city bike tour, others are off for a visit to the Eiffel tower, or to have lunch with friends or to just have a mellow day exploring the neighbourhood.
Look for some recipes for the mussels and the green salad vinaigrette to be posted here soon!
We woke up to some unexpected sunshine! The perfect thing to start our first full day together.
We met at the apartment for a tea and macaron tasting and then the skies clouded over as we headed out on our city tour. But our spirits were hardly dampened. We took the metro down to St. Germain and walked from Place de Concorde through the Tuileries to the Louvre. We encountered a bit of a downpour but we barely missed a beat. We put up our hoods and umbrellas and for a few amazing minutes had the square in the Louvre all to ourselves.
We made our way to the E. Dehillerin in search of some treasures and arrived just in time for the chiming of the bells at the St. Eustache Church.
After witnessing a baptism and taking in the amazing light and calm of the church we moved on to enjoy a drink at a local café. Our walk home was followed by a quick freshening up and a re-group for dinner at a local restaurant called Marguerite.
Drinks, dinner and some lovely conversation closed out our second day.
Tomorrow we shop at the Raspail Sunday bio market and cook and eat!
Everyone has arrived safe and sound.
We spent the morning with our guests that arrived early, walking in the rain around Montmartre and up to the Sacré Cœur. When we arrived at the Basilica there was a mass in progress complete with the sweet singing of a resident nun which warmed our hearts and our much chilled bodies.
After our group headed back to the hotel to check in, unpack and unwind, Sarolta and I got to work preparing for the opening cocktail reception at the apartment.
By 4:30 pm the penthouse was filled with new friends, laughter, and of course, food.
Tomorrow our agenda includes a tea and macaron tasting, a city walk and dinner out at a local Montmartre restaurant.
Such a great first day and looking forward to tomorrow.
It is getting late and we have a big day tomorrow, so just a few images and even fewer words…
The day began with sunshine and coffee.
We set out to briefly mingle with the many tourists at the the Sacre Cœur and planned our walking tour routes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We lunched and then spent hours sourcing ingredients and exploring the city. We walked through the Tuilleries to the Place de Concord and into St. Germain. We stopped for a coffee to refuel and then headed on to the Bon Marché for some menu inspiration.
Before we knew it we were hungry for dinner and found ourselves at Brasserie Lipp where we ate delicious beet and mâche salad, roasted chicken, beef tartare and frites. Our waiter was patient and funny and even though it had started to rain when we emerged onto Boulevard St. Germain we were ready to walk back up the hill to our neighbourhood in Montmartre to do a bit of work.
One final day of planning and preparation before our group arrives on Friday!
We have arrived!!
Sarolta and I arrived safe and sound in Paris this morning.
The apartment is beautiful.
The light is amazing.
We bought peonies at the flower market.
Tomorrow we will shop for ingredients for our upcoming cooking classes.
We are getting ready.