Parisian market and cooking with Chef Charlotte Puckette

Monday, 16 October 2017
There's a joke amongst some academics who earned their PhDs: Why didn't I spend three years and copious amounts of energy researching something like cheese making in France? Well on a recent trip to Paris, I did just that. Sort of.

Paris Perfect is a full-service, reliable company in France that rents flats to tourists and also arranges interesting tours, experiences, and dining options. I looked to see if they offered cooking classes and sure enough - we were able to spend the day with Chef Charlotte Puckette. She is originally from the U.S. but has lived and cooked in France for 30 years. Please visit her website. 

First we went to the market. 

We sampled cheeses and chose goat's, sheep's, and cow's milk cheeses for the fourth course of our lunch. Our group of six was on the lookout for seasonal ingredients including mushrooms, figs, and plums. At one beautiful booth, we hit the mother load. Look at those gorgeous varieties (below)!

Back at the chef's amazing studio kitchen in her five floor flat, we prepped Chanterelles, Trompettes, and Porcinis. We used a wet paper towel to wipe off any dirt and then scraped the sides of the Porcinis with a knife to remove additional debris. The mushrooms were to be sautéed in HAZELNUT BUTTER and served over haricot verts, topped with fresh ricotta - that we learned to make ourselves!

The experience was complete with fine wine selected by the chef herself and explained, as well as a lovely bottle of champagne. I brought one back from France for my husband because he's a fan of sparkling wine and we haven't tried this one. 

I met my girlfriend from college, Angelica, in Paris (she lives near London), and she attended the class with me. We were all given tasks during the class and she was asked to rub the skins off of the hazelnuts with a kitchen towel. We roasted the nuts first and once the skins were off, we processed them with butter and put it in the fridge to chill. 

For dessert, we made a rustic fruit tart using a homemade pastry. Chef Puckett taught us to grate the butter into the flour mixture using a box grater. She didn't even use a mixer to bring it all together with ice cold water. We used our hands! We cut up figs and plums, added sugar, and brushed the edges of the tart with butter. The combination of sweet and tart fruit was divine. 

My favorite course was the duck breast. Chef taught us how to make a fig gastrique (sweet and savory sauce) with a bit of wine and shallots. She seared the duck in a cast iron pan and finished it in the oven. It is by far the best duck I've ever eaten. I can't wait to get back to Paris for another culinary adventure! 

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