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We did not stick strictly to planned menus. On any given day, dependent on what was freshest, most available, etc.
For example, Xavier came home one day with mussels fresh from the sea. He steeped them in a delicious broth and they became the 1st course of our lunch that day. Each day we would go on at least one outing to see and enjoy the local markets and sights. After lunch it was back to the kitchen "Aprons on! Evenings would end in one of the many comfortable parlors, a glass of Armagnac in hand listening to Xavier's great stories.
The Chateau has been in his family since the days of Napoleon and he is an expert on French history in general and the Chateau and surrounding area in particular. Everything was so special and well run it is hard to pick favorites, but two highlights for me were learning how to make an ice bowl and our final formal dinner in the grand dining room.
Mary and Xavier invited 4 friends, we set a beautiful table, dressed for the occasion and feasted on lamb shanks, duck breast and the many dishes and desserts we had prepared earlier. A very rewarding and enjoyable 5 day experience. Completely immersed in the french lifestyle in a fabulous setting with attentive, knowledgeable and gracious hosts. Highly recommend! Never dreamed that I would be celebrating "60" with 5 of my dearest friends in France!
When got to the end of the road and entered the driveway we were in awe of the beautiful building with a huge fountain standing before us. This was our "home" for the next 5 days. The adventure started with getting settled in our rooms and then a quick stroll through the rose gardens to the Orangerie where we ate exquisite cheese and drank fine wine. I knew we were in for a treat of a lifetime. Our chateau hosts were Mary cooking teacher extraordinaire and Xavier wine connoisseur who were so gracious and welcoming that we immediately felt at home.
I was a bit nervous about taking a French cooking class I saw Julie and Julia but Mary put us at ease from the get go. It was so much fun working together in the kitchen on recipes that I would definitely cook at home.
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We prepared lunch and dinner courses, shopped in the outdoor market in La Fleche went on a variety of excursions Abbey of St. The table was beautifully set each night and our meals were fabulous. In addition to the recipes, we came away with a number of new useful cooking tips. I would go back in a hearbeat!! Merci Mary and Xavier!!! Girlfriends were going to France for five days of French cooking classes at Mary and Xavier's chateau out in the Loire Valley.
I mean, why would I want to go? I really dislike cooking. Hate is a strong word but yeah, I hate cooking. I reluctantly agreed and then wished I hadn't committed. The next thing you know, I'm boarding a plane, heading for France. Friends who know how I feel about cooking kept asking me what was I thinking. My taking French cooking classes evoked laughter from everyone. Even I came home, anxious to try out some of the amazing dishes we prepared. It was shocking to me to see how my attitude changed as our week of cooking progressed. I guess when I realized how fun it was to prepare food with ingredients that we picked up at the local farmer's market, all of us with our matching aprons on, laughing and having a great time in the kitchen while putting together fabulous meals that even I could appreciate for how beautiful they were and how great they tasted -- well, it was just an amazing experience, is all I can say.
I'm as shocked as anyone by my transformation.
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Imagine what the trip would be like if you liked to cook!!!! The women I traveled with, they love to cook so of course they had a fabulous time I can't even believe I'm saying all this but it's true: It was an amazing, never-to-be-forgotten trip and I almost missed out.
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Soak the cep mushrooms in warm water for 2 hours before cooking them. Strain them in a colander. Strain the water from the mushrooms in a sieve to remove sand. Reserve the liquid. Dice the onion and color it in the butter.
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Add the cep mushrooms, salt and white pepper. Leave to stew for 10 minutes. Add two ladles of white wine. Add the cream and chicken stock. Leave to simmer on a low heat until the sauce thickens. Add 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan and mix well. Cook the pasta in the mushroom water. Add the cep mushrooms to the sauce and serve with grated parmesan. A recipe from the Brazilian northeast, with local ingredients and indigenous African and Portuguese influences.
A typical recipe from the state of Bahia.