Since I didn’t get very far last week I’m happy to bring you a bit more of France today sharing, some of the great food experiences we had and saw in Provence.
I was completely in love with the French markets. It seems like practically every city and town has at least one market a week with a ton of fresh produce, fish, cheese, sausage and other meats, textiles, spices, flowers etc…who needs the regular store when you can get practically anything you need at the open air market. And Everyone shops at them! On market day it’s just a part of life to prepare your list, get your basket and bags out and head out to get what you need for the week (or half the week if your lucky enough to live in a larger city that has them twice weekly). This way of life is so much more connected to agriculture and fresh food, it’s ingrained in the culture and I loved this aspect of the French lifestyle. Look at all the lovely goodies that I saw at the markets in Orange, Marseilles and Avignon.
To start the trip out hour hostess’s landlady insisted on having us for a very special truffle omelet for dinner. We were truly lucky to have such and exquisite home made meal in the home of a gracious and fun woman! The process of preparing for this omelet required buying the fresh eggs and truffles at the weekly market and infusing the eggs with the truffles by some process of keeping the eggs in their shells and allowing the truffle essence to permeate the eggs. It was divine. We also had this incredible Spelt (that I have yet to locate in the US) served simply au pistou. I’m still hoarding one last bag of it that I brought back. It is much more nutty, sweet and delicate than the spelt whole grain you typically find in the US. Another truly memorable dining experience (really they all were!) was the fresh daily croissant’s that our hostess went and got for us each morning. Some days they were chocolate, some day’s almond and some days just plain. Our typical breakfast was a croissant and plain delicious yogurt. I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of that! Every meal was delicious I think due to the truly fresh ingredients that are standard in Provence. With the slightly mediteranean climate they have a pretty long growing season with not too many very cold spells. We even got to experience the Mistral while we were visiting~Woosh!
And then of course there were the sweets! So many delicious sweets, pastries, candies etc. we tried to restrain ourselves within reason but we did a lot of walking so we had a good excuse to indulge. Probably my favorite though was the combination of chocolate and orange. In the image below right are some green sugar coated chocolate orange candies that we found in a small Chocolatier in Saint-Tropez.
These candies were the inspiration for a cookie recipe I “invented” this week (I’m apparently not the first person to “invent” these but I’d never heard of them and didn’t look up any recipe for them before I concocted my version).
The recipe, below is a French inspired twist on Oatmeal cookies.
Chocolate Orange Oatmeal Cookies
Yields about 3 dozen
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple or peach sauce (peach sauce-pureed steamed/canned peaches)
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped candied orange rind (homemade or store bought)
- 1/2 to 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or pieces (more chocolate can never be a bad thing)
- Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts or hazelnuts in to replace some of the chocolate
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with Silpats; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and apple or peach sauce; mix on high speed to combine.
- Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat on low speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in dried fruits and chocolate (and optional nuts).
- Using a large metal scoop, drop dough onto prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden and just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer sheets to wire rack to cool completely.
If you have a favorite Oatmeal recipe you could adjust it to include the chocolate and orange in place of raisins and nuts etc.