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Our Day At The Cook’s Atelier

I was looking forward to our entire trip to France but I absolutely could not wait for our cooking class day in Beaune (pronounced Bone)! I’m not usually one to get excited. I prefer to have low expectations and then be pleasantly surprised. But I just couldn’t help it. I was beside myself with anticipation for this class and I am thrilled to say it did not disappoint!

Marjorie and her daughter Kendall founded The Cook’s Atelier in 2008. They offer a few different courses and we chose, “A Day In Burgundy.” It was wonderful. Our class was on a Saturday, which is a market day in Beaune. So, the class meets in front of the cheese shop in the square. Then, Marjorie and Kendall take us around the market and introduce us to some of their favorite vendors and we get treated to some delicious samples. The day’s lunch menu is kind of dictated by what looks good that day. Then, we all head back to The Cook’s Atelier and begin prep.

Their space is absolutely gorgeous! They have their beautiful shop in the front. They sell all kinds of kitchen items (so much copper) from pots, pans and baking dishes to pepper mills and vegetable peelers.  I treated myself to a copper whisk!  They also have a lovely selection of wine for sale.

Then as you continue towards the back and head up the stairs you enter the “Atelier” or workshop. I could live just in this room. I want everything! From the cutting boards to the towels to the stove… EVERYTHING! Or I could live one floor up in the perfect dining room. It’s a tough call.

After I took a million pictures of the pretty kitchen it was time for us to begin preparing our 7 course French lunch (paired with wine)! We made gougères to start. These are delicate little pastries. I think they can be sweet but we made savory ones.  They served them as our “first course” with a glass of sparkling Bourgogne wine. I didn’t get a picture of this label which I am bummed about because it was fantastic.  Oh well.  These were the perfect amuse-bouche for walking around and mingling with the other “students.”img_2224

Second course- some more passed hors d’oeuvres: slices of sausage (like salami), slices of smoked duck breast and Foie Gras on toast. I don’t even really like foie gras but I could have eaten every bite and licked the plate clean (but I had to share with 9 other people).

Then began the sit down portion of the meal. We had a delicious soup  (course #3) and a beautiful salad (course #4). We did not prepare these in class but they introduced us to the vendors who provided the ingredients. They showed us the squash they used for the soup while we were in the market and hinted it might show up again later in the day. I’m so happy it did!

Then, we dined on the delectable pan roasted duck breast and vegetables that we all helped prepare. We were all so proud and impressed with ourselves. Everyone was complimenting their own additions… “how are those tomatoes? Aren’t those the best tomatoes you’ve ever had? I made those tomatoes!” “Look how perfectly those carrots are peeled.”  It was so fun!

On to course #6 (and starting to get full). The cheese course. Beautiful and delicious. It’s funny how between 10 people and 5 cheeses almost no one agrees on which is the best. I couldn’t get enough of a truffled soft cheese similar to Brie and my husband didn’t like it at all. We both thought the other was crazy.

Then finally to dessert. We all worked on dessert too so it was a very satisfying end to a delicious meal in more ways than one. Madeleines and Plum Butter Cake. I definitely want to make both at home one day but I’m sure the butter cake will come first. I don’t have a madeleine pan but I always have butter!

My wonderful husband agreed to take this class for me. He was a willing participant but he wouldn’t have signed up on his own. He loved the class too! It was a seriously fantastic day. We would both recommend it to everyone and anyone. You don’t have to be a cook; it is for beginners and the more proficient alike. We met truly lovely people and I am so glad we were able to have this experience. And I must admit it makes me ridiculously happy to see my hubby whisking up a plum butter cake.img_2228

As wonderful as the day was, I will probably never prepare a 7 course meal all by myself. So this day will never be recreated as a whole, which is as it should be. However, it is funny how you can insert moments from that day into the everyday.

A couple weeks ago I was getting ingredients to recreate a dinner I had in Paris. I was on my way into Whole Foods to buy some fish and staring at me were some beautiful Red Kuri Squash. Now, we didn’t make the soup they served during our lunch at The Cook’s Atelier but they did show us the squash they used when we were walking through the market. I picked them up immediately and was so excited. I thought, “I can make soup as a first course and then serve my fish.” Not our average Wednesday night dinner but totally doable.img_3100

Well, there are a lot of steps to make this soup. They aren’t difficult; there are just quite a few of them. Having made it once though I now know you can make it (and should make it) a day in advance. They served this soup cold and it was awesome. It would still be very good served warm but I’m sticking with what I had. So, make this the day before you want to serve it and you will be good to go.

Also, I think this would be the perfect addition to Thanksgiving Dinner for the following reasons:

  • It is made from squash and squash is a traditional Thanksgiving/Fall food.
  • You make it a day ahead of time.
  • It can be served cold so you don’t need to take up any more oven or stove space; those are always at a premium on Thanksgiving.
  • The soup itself happens to be vegan (which I couldn’t believe because of how creamy it was) so if you have guests with a special diet this may suit their needs too.

Ok, lets get on with actually making the soup. If you want the exact recipe from The Cook’s Atelier click here.

First I cut the squash in half (the most difficult part of the entire recipe) and scooped out the seeds.img_3102

*Greatest discovery of the day– those pumpkin scoopers that come in pumpkin carving kits work best here. It makes perfect sense of course I’m just so happy I put 2 and 2 together. It only took me a few seconds per squash to scoop out the seeds.

Then, brush the insides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tuck in some sage leaves.  Put them cut side down on the pan and roast them.img_3103

After roasting the squash and letting them cool enough to handle, get rid of the sage and scoop out all the flesh.img_3117

Sauté all the veggies in some olive oil, pour in stock, add some herbs and let simmer.
Add the squash and continue to simmer.

Remove the herbs and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

img_3125

Strain the soup through a fine mesh blender.

img_3126

*I would skip this step next time. My immersion blender works really well so I didn’t have any chunks of anything. The original recipe blends the soup in stages in a blender so it might be more necessary if you are going that route.

Let it cool and then put it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Mmmmmmm…

Roasted Potimarron Soup (Roasted Red Kuri Squash Soup)

Serves 8img_3218

Ingredients:
3 – 3 ½ lbs Red Kuri Squash
2 T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 Sage Sprigs
1 c thinly sliced Leeks (white and light green parts only)
½ c thinly sliced Carrots
½ c thinly sliced Shallots
½ c thinly sliced Onions
3 large cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
6 c Vegetable Stock
Bouquet Garni (I used tied together Sage, Rosemary, Thyme and Parsley)
Crème Fraiche (for serving)
Chopped Chives (for serving)

Preheat oven to 350
Cut each squash in half; scoop out seeds (using your kid’s pumpkin scooper).
Brush the inside of each squash half with olive oil then, sprinkle with salt, pepper and lay in some sage leaves
Place each half on the baking sheet cut side down
Roast for 1 hour or until completely tender (some of mine were caved in when I pulled them out)
Let the squash cool, remove the sage leaves then scoop out all the flesh

In the meantime, heat the remaining olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat.
Add leeks, carrots, shallots and onions to the pot.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often.
Add garlic cloves and continue to stir constantly for another minute or two.
Add vegetable stock and bouquet garni.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer; simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the roasted squash and simmer for another 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and remove the bouquet garni.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

(If you think you have large chunks or want to be sure of a completely smooth consistency, pour the soup into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and use a spatula to press it through.)

Taste the soup and adjust for seasonings.
Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve or overnight.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and chopped chives.

Bon Appetit!

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