French Cooking – creperie secrets

Crepes and Galettes originated in Brittany but have gone all over the world.  A friend started one in Mexico City and had to came back here to look after her mother.

It takes skill to make the pancakes thin enough but help is at hand with these creperie secrets.

Main Course.

Its got to be galettes, the savoury version of crepes, made with buckwheat flour, which is also known as “Sarrazin” and was presumably brought back from the Crusades. You can buy the galettes in packets in the supermarkets, folded in quarters or else loose, unfolded and often from near the meat counter. To cook them you need a frying pan or wok. You need to find the uncooked side and place that face down in the frying pan. When it shows sign of being warmed through add the fillings. “jambon oeuf, fromage” is a favourite and you can cook the egg on top of the ham before adding grated cheese. If the egg is not fully cooked with the yolk shining through the uncooked white, it is called “oeuf miroir”. Chopped mushrooms, smoked salmon (with a cream sauce on top) are good but you can get loads of ideas from your local creperies.

To serve the crepe fold the sides to the middle, making a square and slide it onto the plate. The picture show how it is done.

Dessert

Its got to be crepes which are made with wheat flour, or froment. Same method as galettes but there is usually no obligation to cook the filling, simply heat it up. The simplest filling is butter, and sugar with lemon juice squirted over them. In this case melt the butter on the crepe, sprinkle on the sugar, squirt the lemon, fold and serve. The second of the creperie secrets is about the large range of prepared sauces –  Cassis (=blackcurrant), framboise (raspberry), and fraise (strawberry)  coulis available at supermarkets. And there’s chocolate, caramel sauce (“au sel de Guerande” – caramel made with  the local sea salt), and others. You may not need to have crepes more than once, but the sauces and coulis are excellent additions to fromage frais (which is like Greek yogurt) or plain yogurt.

Drinks

The traditional drinks to go with crepes would be cider, or else a fermented milk called “le Lait Ribot”, which is almost fizzy, and very refreshing, Both served in bowls.

 

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Free gardening Holiday

Free gardening Holidays ?  There must  be a catch. Well read on to find out.

 

We really do have something to offer for gardeners, and gardening/horticultural students – free gardening holidays in Brittany

We have three gites and four gardens, and we think them nicer than average, so our ambitions exceed the time allowed us.

So very simply: come and help us in exchange for free accommodation !

Our unfulfilled ambitions include the folowing

replace paving in the Hibiscus garden with marble chippings.
Improve and replace fencing.
installation of small garden pond.
fruit cage for protecting brassicas from insect pests.
Some small irrigation works in our potager.
Planting of low bushes or trees to form a second storey in our woodland garden
Skilled reshaping of our enormous cherry trees to bring fruiting to where we can get at the cherries.
Replace a polytunnel in a new location.
renovate a woodland garden…

….and so on.

We provide materials, tools and guidance.

A free gardening holiday ! Accommodation is free and you will only need to work half days or alternate days. Minimum period of stay for one of our gardening holidays is one week. Some gardening knowledge is required as well as a liking for naturalistic gardens (the English style)…

..and by the way there only has to be one gardener in the party. Other family members or friends have a free ride and are allowed/encouraged to have as much fun as possible.

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French Cooking Tartiflette

Perhaps I’m just showing my ignorance, but I only learned about this dish from a friend (long after our arrival in France). Like many French dishes it was invented for commercial reasons, namely to boost the sales of a cheese called Reblochon.from the Savoy region cf France.

Main Course

Tartiflette is a very hearty and filling dish which consists of pre cooked slices of potato, which are layered alternately with slices of Reblochon cheese, and then baked in the oven. The potato slices will become softer as the cheese is melted round them in the oven. You will need twice as much potato by weight as cheese. You can add onion (which I would soften first like the potato) and small pieces of bacon (either the prepacked sort called “lardons” or poitrine fume, which I referred to before).

Click on the picture for detailed cooking instructions.Recette-Tartiflette-7635614

I saw a whole cauldron of it once at Le Mans 24hrs.  4 feet x 2 feet deep. No bacon, just volume !

Dessert

Chocolate fondant (=melting chocolate) would go well with Tartiflette. It is usually sold by boulangeries, as a kind of cupcake in little white paper cases. The outside is cake-like and the inside is liquid chocolate. You should heat the Chocolate fondants in the oven or the microwave, and serve it with crème Anglaise (= custard). The brand that we see most often is called “Babette” and is yellow and sweet like English custard, but unlike English custard its made with real eggs.

To drink.

With such robust accompaniments anything goes – red wine, or white, or beer. If you like Kir white wine sweetened with a little Cassis (the blackcurrant liqueur) that would go well too, and maintains the commercial link that I mentioned above in connection with the Tartiflette: Kir is named after Felix Kir, the mayor of Dijon who promoted this mixture to boost the sales of burgundy white wine in the poor years after 1945.

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French cooking

My most impressing lesson in French cooking was to visit our next door neighbour. I interrupted her as she was eating a salad for lunch. The table was laid, even though she was on her own, her salad was beautifully laid out and as I came through the door she quickly slid her plate into the drawer of her dining table.
Presentation matters !

French cooking also has a host of ingredients, and traditions to which this little series is some kind of introduction.

The series covers seven days. It reflects what we actually eat and drink in Brittany. It covers evening meals only. Breakfast is what you get at the boulangerie, and lunch is either a picnic, or a menu ouvrier.
In deference to the English breakfast and before we set off on the seven day menu I would like to recommend France’s version of streaky bacon. Its called “poitrine fumee” and the butcher will slice it for you (in tranches fines). Beautiful stuff because its normally not wet, unlike English bacon which so often leaves a sticky residue of dried-up wetness in the bottom of the frying pan.

If you haven’t been to France before I should also explain about “menu ouvrier”. You will see if travelling at lunchtime the occasional swarm of lorries and white vans all parked

together. This signals the presence of a restaurant has a workmen’s lunch menu – the menu ouvrier. Its an institution because workmen’s lunches are subsidised by the State. Prices normally 10 – 12 euros. The more lorries and vans the better the restaurant.

 

 

So, that’s the first day of seven. When I’ve finished I’ll reissue all seven post in booklet form – a pdf guide available for download on the front page of our Brittany Holidays website.

Bon appetit

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Euro hits a nine year low.

Great time for Brits to holiday in Brittany, as pound hits 2-year high against the British Pound and a nine year low against currencies as a whole

Been thinking about renting a holiday gite in Brittany? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that it will now set you back less, because the pound has strengthened significantly versus the euro. In fact, sterling recently reached its highest against the common currency in 28 months, or since July 2012, at 1.2867.

What does this mean for you exactly? Well, when you exchange currencies to rent a gite in Brittany in La Ruelmain, you’ll now receive significantly more euros than any time in the recent past. The gites at La Ruelmain are priced in euros, even though returnable deposits are in pounds. For example, let’s say you need to exchange £1,250 into euros. Thanks to the strong pound, you’ll now get +€180 more than back in March 2013, 18 months ago, when sterling was far weaker!

Why has the pound risen? Well, first, it’s because the UK economy is on a roll. Britain is forecast to expand +3.0% in 2014, more than any other major country. Second, it’s because the Eurozone is still struggling to recover from the financial crisis, six years on. The common currency bloc faces both stagnation, and deflation.

With all this in mind, renting a holiday gite in Brittany is now far more affordable, as the pound flies high versus the euro!

By Peter Lavelle at foreign exchange broker Pure FX. For free expert currency advice when you rent a gite in La Ruelmain, call me on +44 (0) 1494 671800 or email peter.lavelle@purefx.co.uk

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Swimming close to the gites.

Swimming near the gites is very straightforward.

The closest swimming is in the Vilaine which looks a bit daunting but is actually quite pleasant. The bottom is firm mud and there is no current. It is a short walk away. One of our clients complained that we had kept its charms a secret, and she swam every day she was here at La Ruelmain.

Next is the Etang Aumee which is an attractive lake just east of Thehillac. It is a short car journey of about 5 miles. There is a sailing school there, opposite the bathing beach which is well maintained. The sand seems to be topped up from time to time; the sand gives a yellowish tinge to the water because of mica suspended in it (the yellow colour is not what you think !).

Another lake is at Kernevy, about 8 miles away near Missillac. It has been effectively banned for swimming for a few years, because of blue-green algal infection. This year it appears to be clear.

Sea bathing is possible at Damgan and Pen Lan 20 miles away, but we prefer the beaches at Penestin because they are free of seaweed, and much more spacious. They stretch from Lomer in the North and extend to the Pointe de Bil in the south. There are about 6 separate beaches in total

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Walk round Ruelmain

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