Taste of Saveur: French Country

Without wasting time, I started working on my bucket list (as mentioned 

here

) to ensure I really do accomplish everything I have challenged myself to before time is up in New York. The first to be crossed of the list is a cooking class. This past weekend, I took my friend Arlee to 

Miette Culinary Studio

 to celebrate her birthday by learning more about the art of cooking together. When we finally got into a class (her birthday was months ago), we were able to hang out, catch up and get in some much needed supervised kitchen time. We both had a fantastic experience, met some charming people and learned volumes about French cuisine.

Wedged between the bars 

Off The Wagon

and

The Grisly Pear

Miette Culinary Studio is a 19th century townhouse space,

near Washington Square in Greenwich Village. Its dainty, antique-filled space accommodated an eleven person course during which we learned how to prepare dishes of the "French Country" theme. Our classically trained instructor, Paul Vandewoude, straight from Belgium, is a professional chef who is entirely passionate about teaching the skill of cooking. His memorable instructing techniques were perfect: non-intimidating, mistake friendly and well-timed. His big belly, half lens glasses and goofy smile made the class all the more enjoyable as he cracked corny jokes that were particularly funny mainly just because they came from him.

Although sponsored by Saveur Magazine, Chef Paul taught us

his

way of making several incredible French dishes. He told us by the end that we were all professionals (probably just because we didn't burn down his studio). But I

tooootally

agree with him, we didn't screw up anything and when we sat down to eat together, everything was beyond delicious. Top Chef, here we come!

The menu consisted of:

     ♠ 

Salade de Fromage de Chèvre (Goat Cheese Salad)

     ♠ 

Soupe au Pistou (Vegetable Soup with Pesto--genius!)

     ♠ 

Poulet R

ôti (Roasted Chicken with Sage and Garlic)

     ♠ 

Lentilles du Puy (French Green Lentils)

     ♠ 

Gratin Dauphinois (Potatoes Gratin--my favorite)

     ♠ 

Clafoutis (Rustic Cherry Tart)

     ♠ 

Homemade Vanilla Ice-cream (Heaven)

Arlee and I left with full stomachs, that's for sure. We learned the building blocks of several rustic dishes and grew an eagerness to get together again to practice whipping up new palatable recipes. This is just the beginning of a long, delicious road ahead. Enjoy!

Potato station! I worked with two Australian girls to create an artistic little dish of starches.

Salt, pepper, nutmeg. Salt, pepper, nutmeg.

I never really thought of adding cucumber to a pitcher of water, but it was prettay refreshing.

Inception? Bowl within a bowl.

The beginning of the French Green Lentil dish. FYI, lentils are much better al dente, according to Paul.

Looks like it could come straight from the

Saw

movies, but really it just sliced potatoes.

So, I gave it a go. Kept all of my fingers!

Arlee was a natural. She may start a business as a potato chip maker. 

Nutmeg shaving. Who'da thunk?

Kara and Karen. Together we made the KKK. Oops!

They were visiting from Australia. Of course they got me "homesick" for traveling. Oxymoron?

Definitely going to remake this one. It was the simplest recipe of them all. Dinner party, anyone?

Preparations for the soup.

Did you know, a squeeze of lemon in the cooking water will keep the lentils from falling apart?

I had to make this goat cheese combo in front of everyone! I was so nervous I was going to screw it up, but I had a little Curtis Stone sitting on my shoulder telling me what to do. Turned out to be tasty!

        I never thought to add pesto to a soup. It was the PERFECT addition to the

                     Soupe au Pistou.

Perfectly organized cooking space.

Paul had every type of cooking contraption you could think of.

Couldn't help myself.

Instead of using chicken (took longer to cook) we used cornish hens for the Poulet R

ôti

.

Our finished 

Gratin Dauphinois. Came out pretty slam dunk.

The lentils really added a comfort food element to the French country cooking that I didn't expect.

Paul taught us how to make homemade vanilla, which takes about a year to ferment when it becomes ready to use. The aged vanilla + the awesome ice cream maker made the most incredible ice cream I have ever, ever, EVER tasted.

A wise man at work.

The first course.

Our group sitting down to enjoy our hard work together.

We're ready to chow down.

                  Second course of perfection.

The last and most scrumptious course. Warm blueberry tart and the homemade vanilla ice-cream for dessert.

Belgian sandwich!

Love, Peace and Chicken Grease,

Kelsey :)

P.S. My new favorite person: the girl from

My Drunk Kitchen

.

Tacos

 and

Brunch

are my favorites. She's genius!