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Chez Nanou French Cooking Class: Winter Session

We kicked off our seasonal French Cooking Class series at Chez Nanou on Monday, January 21st, 2013.  Students arrived at 5 pm and after introductions and an orientation to the restaurant, class began promptly.  An apron, hand towel, and packet of the recipes for the evening were provided to each student.  In keeping with our small class size, each student had their own work station in the kitchen.

Dee & Nanou were so perfectly organized in their preparations, class went smoothly and everyone was able to enjoy their time in a relaxed and fun fashion.  We started things off by putting together the Salmon & Leek Pie, our main course.  Students helped mix together the pastry dough, clean and prep leeks, skin and dice fresh salmon, and make a Béchamel sauce.  After the pie was in the oven we got started on the French Onion Soup.  Nanou shared her secret for slicing onions without tears!  Students sliced onions and got them sautéing.  While the soup simmered, we moved on to dessert…Crêpe Suzette!  Everyone got to take a turn making crepes.  There is definitely a technique to getting it right and the correct pan is a must!  Finally, Nanou demonstrated making the Suzette sauce which was then set aside until assembly time.

 

Now that the work was done, it was time for dinner.  The soup bowls were assembled with herbed croutons made at the beginning of class, topped with the delicious onion soup, and finally with grated Swiss cheese.  The bowls were place under the broiler to melt the cheese until slightly golden.  Wine was poured and it was time to eat!  The students, guests, and chefs sat around a convivial table to enjoy the home cooked food and engage in conversation.  The way a Slow Food meal is meant to be. The soup was delicious.  Savory and warm with some sweetness from the onions.  Thick and hearty from the croutons and cheese.  I think I could eat this all winter long!

Moving on to our second course, the pie was golden and gorgeous with perfectly flaky crust.  Filled with creamy salmon and leeks, it was the definition of comfort food!  The fresh salmon had been mixed with smoked salmon to give the pie some depth of flavor.  Nanou taught the students how to make an emulsified mustard vinaigrette from scratch.  With this dressing, an arugula salad accompanied each slice of pie.  It made a beautiful plate.

 

 

Last but not least was dessert.  We went brief  back to the kitchen where each student was able to create their own authentic Crêpe Suzette, complete with flambéed Grand Marnier.  There was a lot of excitement in the kitchen!  The crêpes were light and tangy.  The perfect end to a lovely meal.

 

Everyone had a nice time cooking, learning, and eating together.  We are so excited to offer this series of classes and are working on an April date for the Spring session!  We look forward to having you join us.  Bon Apetit!

UMF #7: Vom Fass

Urban Market Forage started the New Year with a visit to Vom Fass on University Avenue. Vom Fass, which is German for From the Cask, first opened in 1994 in Regensburg, Germany. In 2008, the first American Vom Fass opened right here in Madison. There are now about a dozen shops in the U.S. and about another 250 across the globe.

All the products come from small producers, many practicing organic agriculture and working exclusively with Vom Fass. The exact location/farm of every item in the store is noted on the product tag. Many items also have cooking and pairing suggestions.

For anyone who has more salads on their list of resolutions for 2013, you couldn’t ask for a better destination. We were treated to tastings of many, many delightful oils, ranging from olive to argan, pistachio to avocado, hazelnut to grapeseed.

The vinegars were also stellar. From brightly acidic wine vinegars to syrupy balsamic-style fruit vinegars that would be more at home on a dessert plate or in a cocktail. Shane, our staff guide was very knowledgeable about cooking and enjoyed the Slow Food gang’s eagerness to try as many different flavors as possible.

After all that oil and vinegar, we transitioned to the stronger stuff. First some red wines, both mellow and fruity. We tasted liqueurs, grappas, scotches, whiskies and brandies. We also got a lesson in the history of absinthe. Vom Fass stocks a very tasty version and sells a variety of pretty spoons for your sugar cube.

Go, taste, create.

Introducing the Sweet Potato Project

One of the latest projects Slow Food Madison is sponsoring and actively involved with is the Madison Sweet Potato Project.

The basics of this project are to help people around the Madison area grow sweet potatoes in their backyards, community plots, or farm fields.  Then in the fall, those growers will donate half of all those sweet potatoes to a local food pantry of their choice.

The Sweet Potato Project (SPP) has ordered 7,500 sweet potato slips and is now in the process of having people sign up to plant them when they arrive in late spring – usually around the beginning of June.  The SPP is also providing workshops on how to grow sweet potatoes in our growing zone.

Depending on the weather mother nature brings us in 2013, the SPP expects to have 10,000 lbs of sweet potatoes donated to Madison area food pantries.

Visit the SPP site for more information or to sign up to grow sweet potatoes.