French Friday

Paris Brest

A Paris Brest has a history behind it which dates back to its creation in 1910. There was a 1,200 km cycling event which started in Paris, went to the city of Brest in Brittany, and then back to Paris again, in 1891. In 1910 a choux pastry in the form of a wheel was created by a pâtissier to commemorate the race, this being named the Paris Brest. This was a high calorie dessert which gave energy to the riders, and soon became very popular and known worldwide. Since those days, the ring of choux has had a few variations in the fillings, different sweet fillings as well as many savoury varieties.

Here I have a sweet version which is filled with a mixture of cream, orange and apricot.

This can be filled with a custard of your choice, but this is just one filling which you may not have tried.

Roasted Cauliflower with Carrots and Lemon Zest

Brittany is the leading vegetable producing region in France and the sixth in Europe. In the Breton village of Lanmeur, cauliflower is a much loved vegetable, and the people in that village  have created some inspirational dishes using roasted cauliflower. Here we have just one delicious side dish which is full of flavour and one which you will be sure to make again. This can be a meal on its own.

Provencal Mint Pesto

Pistou is originally a recipe from Nice in Provence.
It is traditionally a sauce made from nuts and herbs, and modified with garlic and oil. 

This recipe is a pesto usually served with lamb. A much more subtle flavour than the mint jelly, or mint and vinegar sauces we often use on lamb. 

Provencal Baked Carrots and Fennel

Here we have a very tasty side dish which transforms simple carrots into a perfect and flavoursome accompaniment to any meal.

By roasting the carrots and fennel, you get these wonderful caramelised vegetables, which make you wonder why you ever boil or steam vegetables when you have a bit of time to prepare them.

Cream Puffs with Almonds and Speculoos Cream

Here we have cream puffs which are filled with a mixture of cream and Speculoos paste.  This paste is an influence of Belgian cuisine and used often in French desserts.

French Lamb Shank Bourguignon

Lamb shanks are a tough cut of meat, yet very forgiving, so they do need to be cooked slowly. Herbs de Provence give this particular dish an amazingly tasty flavour. I use herbs de Provence in a number of dishes, and nothing quite compares with this combination of herbs. If you can, make yourself a mixture of these herbs to use when needed, and you will be surprised how often you will use them once you discover the flavour they produce. For those who missed the edition where I gave out the recipe for herbs de Provence, I will include it at the end of this recipe.

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