Image: AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati
Here’s a lesson. Don’t rely on technology too much. Today’s post was completed, saved as a draft and when I returned this morning "poof" it was gone. Hours of research on this little known region wiped out. I was angry to say the least. And then on a whim I entered in a central word from this post-Cantal-into Google Desktop Search, et voila, there it was in the cache. This is an amazing computer accessory if you rely heavily on your computer. And it’s free. While your there download Picasa also.
I was incredibly late to work today by two and a half hours! But we’re in the home stretch with three days to go until Paris mon ami!
Albi to Mende – Distance: 189 km/118 mi
Along the route today is the Cantal or Auvergne region. While not a well-travelled gastronomic stop it is home to quintessial country cooking. Dishes such as tripoux a minced mix of "frasie de veau", bacon, onion, garlic, salt, herbs and spices in a pouch of Veau. It is cooks five to seven hours. Another regional specialty is pounti is similiar to a ham loaf often found studded with prunes.
Five of the 41 French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheeses are produced here: Cantal; St.Nectaire; Bleu d’Auvergne; Fourme d’Ambert; and Salers. World famous and also one of the oldest known cheeses Cantal is named after the mountain range in the Massif Central. This pasteurized cow’s milk is used in two regional potato dishes. Truffade is a baked mixture of sliced potatoes and aligot, a potato purée made with the hard cheese along with garlic. It looks very simple and plain but it has a pleasing taste and texture and is loved by many.
Bilberries or myrtilles, are a central ingredient for tarte aux Myrtilles. These wild blueberries grow wild on the mountains in the Cantal.
I love soups and this one gives great comfort. Granted this is more of a winter recipe for most of us in the States. Our friends down under will want to prepare it on a cold, rainy day soon!
excerpted from The Slow Meditterean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert
3 large (white and light green parts only), chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5 green garlic shoots or 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-pound loaf stale chewy bread with crust
1 1/2 pounds (about 10 cups) mixed leafy greens (sorrel, chard, parsley leaves, arugula, spinach, and watercress), deribbed and shredded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
3 cups whole milk, heated to simmering
1/2 pound Cantal or Gruyère cheese
Measure the leeks, onion, and garlic to be sure you have about 1 quart.
In a 7- or 8- quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Slowly stew the leeks, onion, and garlic for 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 2 quarts. Spread the cubes in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until just golden. Let cool and store until ready to use.
Add the greens to the pot, cover, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes. Uncover and boil away excess liquid. Allow to cool. Add the lemon juice, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Correct the salt. (Up to this point the recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
About 2 1/2 hours before serving, oil a deep 3-quart casserole, preferably earthenware. Place one-third of the bread cubes in the dish, top with half the greens, and repeat, ending with the bread cubes and patting lightly to make an even topping. Gradually pour the hot milk down the insides and over the top of the panade so everything is moist. If necessary, add 1/2 cup water. Cover with the grated cheese and a sheet of foil.
Bake in a preheated 250°F (120°C) oven for 1 3/4 hours. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C), uncover, and bake 20 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to relax for about 10 minutes before serving.