With the command “Allez Cuisine” ringing in their ears, ten enthusiastic guests recently participated in Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast’s Brandywine Country Cooking School class for French Country Cooking. They worked diligently under the tutelage of Chef Melissa Walsh and owner Glenn Mon to create a lunch menu that featured a cheese and smoked ham in puff pastry, asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Jambon de Bayonne (French Prosciutto), country pate, baguettes, and an olive tapenade with figs. The dinner offering was cream of watercress soup, rabbit with Dijon mustard, roasted fennel with parmesan shavings, pommes frites, and caramelized pear tatin with Gorgonzola ice cream. A roast chicken was also prepared for any student who might not have been a fan of rabbit. However, all but one student enjoyed the rabbit so much there were not even any left overs.
Lunch had been planned to be “en plein air” (al fresco) on Hamanassett’s stone terrace with water fountain overlooking the south lawns, but a brutal heat wave had engulfed the Brandywine Valley which forced everyone inside to the comfort of Hamanasett’s air conditioned dining room. That little inconvenience did not diminish the enjoyment that everyone experienced with the consumption of their wonderful culinary endeavors. The dinner menu was also served to the guests in Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast’s elegant dining room where they dined by candle light. Their dinner was accompanied by white wines from local Brandywine Valley vineyard Penns Woods Winery (www.pennswoodsevents.com) and reds from France’s Chateau Lafite.The guests prepared all of the menu items from scratch using the freshest of ingredients – nothing from cans or boxes. In keeping with the French Country theme of this class, many ingredients such as the rabbit, racelette cheese, French smoked ham, Jambon de Bayonne (French Prosciutto), caviar, black truffle butter, Ventreche (French bacon), and duck fat were acquired through D’ARTAGNAN. They are a great resource for amazing quality products that can be accessed on-line at www.dartagnan.com.
While all of the menu items were delicious, one particular offering stood out – Feuilette Savoyard which was the cheese and smoked ham in puff pastry. Made with smoked ham, racelette cheese and a béchamel sauce made with crème fraiche, it was a phenomenal dish. Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast will be adding this dish to our breakfast repertoire as our unique version of the classic Croque Monsieur by adding a fried egg topping for our own kicked-up Croque Madame. In fact, we are serving it on one of the mornings of the Labor Day weekend. We still have a few rooms available so if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the dish yourself, check out our web site at www.hamanassett.com. For those adventuourous types, Brandywine Country Cooking School recipe for this dish follows:
Cheese and Smoked Ham in Puff Pastry
1 large egg yolk
½ cup crème fraiche
1 ½ tbsp. butter
2 tbs. flour
½ cup milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. puff pastry cut into 2 equal pieces
½ lb. raclette, thinly sliced
½ lb. smoked ham, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 375F. Combine egg yolk and 1 tbsp. of crème fraiche in small bowl and set aside.
- Make béchamel sauce by melting butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Combine remaining crème fraiche and milk in a bowl and gradually whisk into pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Roll out pastry into two 8” x 11” rectangles, ½” thick. Place 1 sheet of dough on a baking sheet. Leaving a ½” border, prick dough with a fork. Layer cheese over dough and cover with ham slices. Spread béchamel sauce over ham. Brush pastry edges with egg wash. Cover with second sheet of pastry, sealing borders with a fork. Score pastry with a small, sharp knife. Coat with egg wash and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
There are still some spots available for Brandywine Country Cooking School “Game Most Faire” class November 1-2, 2013, where you can prepare for the Holiday season with a hands-on culinary experience using more exotic fare that will give your holiday table a truly unique flavor. Pheasant, Quail, Venison and other game will be the featured ingredients in dishes creatively prepared by you for a memorable and sumptuous adventure.