The good thing about French cheese is that it has no use-by date. I’ve been surviving on the French cheese I brought in May. Your question would be either “What much cheese did she manage to bring?” or “How long has she kept it?” A bit of both if I may answer your questions.
I brought about 4kg of cheese and *** bottles of wine (I can’t say the exact number in case customs officials come across my blog, so the stars are the number of syllables), and I’ve been gnawing them as slowly as possible. Seeing that it’s getting closer to October, I thought I could make another visit to France for cheese, wine and study again. So it’s time to indulge in the last remaining cheese.
Except the first time I was there in 2007, it’s always been late autumn or winter when I visit there. France, Winter and Me. What’s up with me and France?
The last Christmas in France was the best ever as far as gastronomy and authenticity is concerned. Foie gras brulee, duck filo pastry, and chestnut puree, etc. I’ve become a fan of chestnut pudding since I first had it in France. I knew warm walnut pudding but not chestnut pudding up to that point.
Last autumn when my parents were here, they collected lots of chestnuts and, since they spoil easily, my mum cooked, peeled and stored them all in the freezer for me to use later. She would add some into rice along with other grains and beans as she never cooks just white rice alone. So I’d planned to make chestnut pudding or cake, something with chestnuts but hadn’t got around to doing it. Sensing that the chestnut season is approaching, I needed to get rid of all the frozen food from the past seasons; chestnuts, tart pastry, and chicken.
I don’t eat chicken unless it’s free-range, not because I’m paranoid about the antibiotics and the cruelty practiced on chicken farms, but because normal commercial chickens simply aren’t tasty. It doesn’t have the meaty taste that I remember from old times and, instead, it’s just full of fat and melts away before chewing. So I seek out free-range chickens, and luckily, in Istanbul, you can still go to small inner-city villages and get so-called “village chickens” and “village eggs“. These free-range chickens need 3-4 hours’ cooking. Since it’s not an easy task, I try not to waste any part of it, so I separate the meat from the bones and put it in plastic bags, and the stock in ice cube makers or in plastic bags, one cup portion in each and freeze all. Natural chicken stock, you see? No waste?
There were still whole packets of Roquefort and Camembert, which had been long past its written use-by date. I don’t care about expiry dates when it comes to French cheese because the older and stinkier, the better! Yeah~~~ now the camembert tastes almost like Epoisses! Oh my god, the sharp ammonia struck my nose and bit my tongue, but I loved it.
I almost used Roquefort for this recipe but decided that it would be too extravagant to use it for cooking. So I ended up using fake Roquefort bought here, which is more like St. Agur. Anyway, blue cheese is the main flavour of this dish.
Last slice of Serrano jambon also ended up in this as I’m expecting more to land in my pantry soon. The pastry was rolled out and the filling arranged nicely, topped with chestnuts and grated parmesan, and rosemary sprigs.
Voila! Looks pretty rustic, yes? The bumps on the pastry were not intended but they happened because the pastry had been dried out a bit, nonetheless it still seems to have made nice patterns. Now it’s time for tasting.
Do you also love what you cook? Or is it only me? I love my food. My food isn’t always exquisite or extravagant, however, it’s unpretentious and unconventional; healthy and nourishing. Luckily, Mr.O has become not only my biggest fan but also a missionary, converting people to “foreign” food. It hasn’t been an easy ride, I tell you, but after a certain period of resistanc, he’s become an official food enthusiast, being curious about food, looking up recipes and offering to cook.
The pungent aroma of creamy blue cheese and the sweet aroma of purple basil, which I added a lot of were in good harmony with the warm and earthy flavour of chestnuts and mushrooms. The texture of chestnuts was almost like sweet potatoes, which I can’t get in Turkey.
This is probably the most extravagant dish I’ve cooked since I came to Turkey as it includes many items that are hard to get hold of such as roquefort, jambon, celery and basil. Only if you go to a gourmet store in affluent suburbs, you can get them at a very high price. Therefore, this dish was extremely exquisite in my own term and I appreciated it very much, savouring every bite and chewing the chicken meat diligently. It was a shame that there were only two people to enjoy the special dish.
I was very tempted to open a bottle of wine, then decided that it would be too extravagent for a lunch time, turning me into a greedy gourmand. How can one resist sipping wine while eating this delicious dish? But I did – no-wine-before-5 rule stands. I still have enough chicken meat to make another tart so I will make sure to organise a gathering and share the delightful dish with others and show how great a free-range chicken tastes.
Last week and over the weekend, Koreans celebrated the Harvest Festival, or Choosuk in Korean language, but I couldn’t even call my family as I was on the road – perhaps it’s time to get a smartphone, I wonder….but tasting chestnuts, I had a moment to think of my family, especially my mum busying herself in the kitchen, the crowded atmposphere, the permeating smells of food during the festival holiday. Whenever asked if I miss Korean food, I don’t even take a second to answer and the answer is always “NO!”, but I miss my mum’s food and the unrestrained atmosphere of eat-till-you-pop sometimes. 🙂Belated Happy Choosuk!
Rustic Chicken Roquefort Chestnut Tart
1 pie crust, prepared or to make “Butter crust or Pâte Brisée”
300g chicken, breast and thigh, cut
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 green chili (optional)
1 slice of jambon, snipped into small pieces
1/2 cup cooked chestnuts
150g roquefort or St,Agur or Danish blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup grated parmesan
fresh (purple) basil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly grate nutmeg
sea salt and whole peppercorns
1. Heat the pan with a little olive oil and pan-fry the chopped onion, celery and green chili, if using, till soft.
2. Add chicken, mushrooms and a little salt and peppercorns and cook till the chicken is done.
3. Add jambon and blue cheese, and then stir gently to mix.
4. Turn off the heat and toss in fresh basil and nutmeg, and let it cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 200’C(400F) and roll out the prepared tart dough to a 13-14 inch round – the steps for making dough have been skipped, assuming that you already have one prepared and resting in the fridge. Otherwise, begin by making the dough first before making the filling.
6. Place the dough on a rimmed baking tray or tart mould and pour the filling in the middle of the dough and spread evenly leaving 2 inches from the edge.
7. Place the chestnuts and grate parmesan cheese, and then decorate with rosemary sprigs.
8. Fold the edges over the filling and bake for 45-50 mins.
9. Let it cool for 5 mins or so and serve.
Oh, yeah~~Mussels in Blue cheese broth! It used to be my favourite menu in Belgium pubs.
- Moules au Roquefort (kresnaputri.wordpress.com)