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Seasonal delights….asparagus

As the ground starts to warm after the winter chill, the garden is abloom with spring flowers and the first signs of life in the veg plot start to twist and turn their way towards the sun. It is still too early for any homegrown asparagus but as I drive around the local area I noticed several of the local producers have started to advertise their early crop and it won’t be long before bundles of vibrant green asparagus stalks are all over the markets.

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It is without doubt my first real treat of the season and I am going to pair some tender young stalks with soft poached duck eggs. For something a little different to normal I have scattered over a little dukkah, an Egyptian blend of toasted nuts and spices, which marries perfectly the soft creaminess of the egg and the sweet, almost citric flavour of the asparagus. A bed of creamy tahini yogurt and a slug of fruity olive oil makes this combination truly delicious.

Asparagus with duck eggs, tahini and dukhah

Serves: 2

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon tahini paste

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 duck eggs

1 bundle young asparagus, trimmed

2 teaspoons dukhah*

a drizzle extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Divide between 2 plates.

Cook the duck eggs in a small pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Drain and immediately refresh under cold water to stop further cooking. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and cut in half.

Plunge asparagus spears into a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and shake dry.

Arrange the asparagus spears over the tahini sauce, pop the egg halves on top  and scatter over the dukhah. Drizzle with a little oil and serve.

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  • dukhah is available from Middle eastern stores, delis and some supermarkets

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Cooking classes and food tours

Today I am launching my brand new business – Come Cook In France – food tours and cooking classes from my home in SW France. Please check it out and spread the word.

http://www.comecookinfrance.com

RESIDENTIAL

The weekend food lovers retreat – a 3 day/4night residential cooking course, with trips to producers and markets and a restaurant.

The seven day culinary experience – a 6 day/7 night residential cooking course with trips to producers, markets and a restaurants.

NON-RESIDENTIAL DAY COURSE

Cook Club – a half day morning class aimed mainly at people living locally full time who love to cook, want to increase their repertoire of dishes or cook something other than French food and learn new skills at the same time.

Cook & dine – an afternoon course where we will cook a fabulous 3 course dinner usually locally sourced ingredients and cook them with a modern twist. We will then dine together enjoying the fruits of our labour. Non-cooking partners and friends are welcome to join us for dinner.

Family days – these take on various forms but basically I offer parents the chance to relax whilst I cook with the kids who will make afternoon tea for mum and dad! with an afternoon class. You can also spend the whole day here, adults spend the morning cooking lunch whilst the kids enjoy the facilities (an adult will always be present to be with them) and then the kids cook in the afternoon and parents relax. And I get to do all the clearing up!!

The cook school

All the cooking courses are held at our home in Les Cardinaux, 16190, Aignes et Puyperoux is about 25 minutes south of Angouleme, the capitol of Charente department, in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Les Cardinaux is a small hamlet of 5 houses in the commune of Aignes et Puyperoux aprroximately 5km north/3 minutes from Montmoreau St Cybard where there are shops, a bar, a pharmacy, post office, Doctor’s and a train station with links to both Angouleme and Bordeaux.

 

Getting to us is really simple and you have plenty of options either by car, ferry, plane or train. We do recommend you have a car even if flying as we are rural, although we can collect you from your landing port with advance planning.

Travel options – you could catch the train in London and be here with a very simple change in Paris or Lille in as little as 31/2 hours with a very simple change in Paris or Lille. (The high speed tgv from Paris to Angouleme opens on 2 July this year)

You will be able to pick up a hire car at the train station.

Nearest Airports;
Limoges – 11/2 hrs – Bordeaux – 11/2 hrs – Bergerac – 11/2 hrs – Poitiers 1hr 50 La Rochelle – 1.5hrs

You will be able to pick up a hire car at any of the airports, or we can pick you up for a small fee if you prefer.

Nearest Ferries:

Saint Malo – 5hrs, Calais – 7hrs, Roscoff – 6hrs, Caen – 6hrs

Also: If you book with Holiday France direct we can offer 20% off Brittany ferry crossings

Drive You can take the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais and meander down through the beautiful French countryside with perhaps take an overnight stop halfway (we can recommend accommodation on route for you). The journey takes around 7 hours.