Paris: Cooking Class II

Part deux of the report on the cooking class we took while in Paris!
(part one)
After we shed our damp clothes and dropped our other belongings in the foyer, we entered Paules kitchen and arranged ourselves around the table.

Her assistant had already walked home ahead of us and begun taking things out of the grocery cart and putting them away or unwrapping them
She offered us a coffee or tea. Remember, everything in France is smaller 
(except for their monuments and official buildings)
so I received a demitasse and my husband a small glass in a silver holder.

It was funny to watch him pick up that glass with his big workingman hands
 and sip his tea!
Paule let us know what we would be making and indicated 
that each place had a set of recipes.
Our menu was:
Moroccan Chicken
Vegetable Terrine
Fresh Asparagus with Mayonnaise Mousseline
Strawberry tart
We would also have a cheese tasting.
We began by preparing the parsley for the terrine and the chicken.
Paule demonstrated how to chop the parsley (or any other herb)
in a glass with scissors…..super easy!

She had steamed the vegetables for the terrine ahead of the class to save time.
We had a discussion about her experience that Americans do not like gelled things.
So, this terrine was using a cream base.
During the class, we had many side discussions and this mention of cream
prompted Paule to talk about the fat content in cream vs butter.
Apparently, there had been some discussion recently in the news and talk shows, etc
about French women dieting harshly because of the approach of summer.
This is a horrific occurrence in a country which provides written menus to parents 
of students (and allows discussion of said menu) for the lengthy school lunches.
You are aware that you can’t get ice in France right?
Do you know why?
I’ve been told that it’s because no one could ever agree on the RIGHT recipe
so… ice!
(hee hee) 
Her information was that whenever butter was indicated in cooking, the newspapers and TV were suggesting substitution of heavy cream (15% fat).
So, parsley chopped and divided up, some for the terrine, some for the chicken.
We beat the eggs and cream with a whisk…passing the bowl along and taking turns.
Paule used a silicone mold and stated she was not overly fond of silicone (I agree)
but that it was easy to remove the terrine. 
She reminded everyone to put it on a supportive surface before filling!

In went the vegetables and then the cream/egg/herb mixture.
Paule laid some chive strips on the top and onto the oven it went.
When it came out in a bit, she put it outside the window to cool….
right next to a pail with her garden clippers inside!
Just like my Granny used to put her pies on the back porch!

This created a discussion about American safety regulations.
I said that in America, if she was running this class with a license, 
someone would tell her that she couldn’t do that because it wasn’t safe. 
She turned and looked at the terrine and said, “what? Put it on the windowsill?”.
Everyone laughed and said “yes”. The Californians said “especially with the smog”.
While the terrine was baking, we had started on the chicken.
We resumed our discussion of the big breasted chickens vs the free range chickens.
Paule told a humorous story about how she is requested to make “white meat”
in her preliminary questionnaires. 
Apparently MANY people write that they want chicken, white meat.
She is reading ‘chicken’, ‘white meat’…so she made pork.
 Her students made her realize that Americans divide chicken into white or dark meat. 
To her, chicken IS white meat and so is pork. 
She doesn’t understand why you would only want to eat the less flavorful breast 
and nothing else! Boy, the French have a lot to learn 
about becoming a professional dieters like Americans!
 If you’re a foodie like I am you have to be so careful to not enjoy your food TOO much when you’re around other women….”Just lettuce for me thanks…I’m not hungry.”
So, the chicken was already cut up and we proceeded to make the herb topping.
We chopped a bit more parsley and Paule demonstrated how to easily dice an onion.
Other spices were added along with some sesame seed.
All was crushed up together with some oil.

Paule removed a jar of preserved lemons from the refrigerator and showed us how to use that….peel only please!

She gave us instructions for preserving lemons and I was really happy with that!
 Remember that Meyer lemon tree I carefully tend?
 I now have something to do with some of those lemons!
I have read recipes for Moroccan chicken before 
and always wondered at the flavors and if I would like it.
 It was easy and delicious! I intend to make it….once I get those lemons preserved!
Paule showed us her cast iron/enamel pot with the indented lid.
This chicken dish can be made on the stovetop or in the oven.
The indented lid is designed to hold ice cubes. As the pan heats, the ice melts and creates moisture inside the lid, dripping on the chicken.

We all managed to find out (the language barrier was in effect)
that the process would likely be the same even without the indention 
as long as it was a heavy cast iron pot. We concluded that it might take 
a bit more frequent checking and some addition of water occasionally 
to keep the chicken moist.

Paule heated some olive oil in the pot first before we added the chicken 
that we had coated with the herb mixture.
This made a discussion of olive oil. Paule said that olive oil 
was not used much in France in the past 
and that she had never seen it in her home growing up.
Then she discussed the lack of much creative cooking in 
French homes during her childhood.

In between tasting some oils with chunks of bread we discussed the current cooking climate in average French homes. The fanciful notion that French women shop daily for fresh food is “crazy….maybe 40 years ago, but not now”. Paule stated that she felt more French women worked outside the home than in America and that they relied on supermarkets and an extensive supply of frozen food. She herself has a lot of frozen food which she uses. 
Paule informed us that the frozen dishes they had in France were very good.
So, the terrine was cooling, the chicken was in the pot and we next prepared 
a crust for the tart, made mayonnaise and prepared the asparagus.
We removed the dry end of the asparagus and then peeled the stem
 from just under the buds to the base.

Into the basket it went.

The green and white were cooked separately and when they were finished, Paule wrapped them in a tea towel to hold them.

The crust for the tart was super easy and no rolling required.
It was very short and like a cookie crust. It mixes up in a bowl and is pressed into the tart tin.
While that was in the oven, we had our cheese tasting.
She cut up chunks of bread and we smeared cheese on the bread and tasted each kind.
We had a nice glass of white wine to go along.

Paule emphasized the importance of correctly letting the cheese age before eating. 

When we were at the cheese shop earlier, this was the point of discussion among the shopkeepers and the customers. 
What region did the cheese come from, what type of milk was used, how long was it aged,
 how should it be served, how long after buying it should it be eaten, and so on….
I laughed inside when I thought about how I just grab a block of cheese from the shelf 
and move on…..hmmmm.. I doubt there is a single person in any store I visit
 (including Fresh market or Trader Joe’s) 
who could answer any one of those questions!
The cheeses were just fantastic! My husband and I especially loved the Banon….
a smooth, delicious goat cheese.
 I have the whole list of cheeses she served and I will get that info to you.
Not in this post….it is SOOOOO long already…(sorry)
The tart shell was finished and cooling by the time we were done.
We mixed up a filling, hulled the berries and gave the job of arranging them beautifully 
to the person who was a caterer! How convenient!

Once the tart was finished, we moved into the dining area. 
The table was mostly set but we added a few things 
and sat down to enjoy what we had created!

While we enjoyed our terrine, Paule and her assistant finished some couscous
 to go with the chicken.
We started with the terrine, which had been placed on some baby greens
and drizzled with some of the really good, peppery olive oil.

Asparagus with the mayonnaise mousselline

The chicken and couscous
(sorry…I ate it all and forgot the pic!)
All accompanied with nice wine and good conversation.
Finally the strawberry tart.

We lingered over our lunch and enjoyed discussions about life in France,
life in the US, cooking, children, Paule’s desire to write an opinion column
and many other things.

The rain had finished, the windows were open and a gentle breeze 
softly billowed the white sheer curtains.
Eventually, we went our separate ways after receiving a diploma and a tote bag!
It was truly a lovely way to spend a day in Paris!

Au revoir


  1. What a wonderful day you had . the food looked fabulous ..and she had a big fridge !

  2. Everything in her place was much larger than I expected! In Germany all the kitchens were so tiny. I’d love the recipes for what you made????? Will you send them to me so I can try them:) Pretty please? I’m so glad you had such a wonderful day of cooking!

  3. I doubt that Paule’s kitchen is typical of most Parisian apartments…she does classes for a living. But it was very nice and very workable!

  4. So how did you like the terrine and the sauce with the asparagus?


  5. Your post was great! I will never get to Paris and it was so interesting to see what a French cooking lesson would be like. Thanks for sharing!

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