Cooking Classes in Monaco

It’s hardly a secret that I am a less-than-enthusiastic cook, but I do try to keep learning and even took a cooking class with a Michelin-star chef.

If you would like to try your hand at hands-on cooking in a luxurious environment, classes are offered at both the Hotel de Paris and at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco.

One cooking class starts in the afternoon (link in English) and the other begins in the morning (link in English), providing schedules that should delight everyone’s ‘taste’!

After the class, you will enjoy a gastronomic meal from the fruits of your labor – bien sûr, created by top notch chefs.  Time spent in their kitchens would indeed be a gourmet “authentic cooking experience”!

Bon Appétit!

LouisXV-AlainDucasse_Coquilles-Saint-Jacques-de-Normandie-dorées-au-sautoir-pulpe-de-laitue-et-de-cresson-de-fontaine Photos courtesy of official Hôtel de Paris website

Gougères – Cheese Puffs

This recipe looks like the perfect “amuse-bouche” to awaken your guests’ appetites and seems quick and easy to do – Bon Appetit!

Makes about 16.

½ cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
dash of piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
2 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup grated Comté or Gruyère cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
2. Pour the water, butter, piment d’Espelette and salt into a small but heavy saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring to combine.
3. Turn the heat off but keep the pan on the burner and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and pulls from the sides.
4. When the dough forms a ball, remove from the stove and let it rest for 3 minutes.
5. Add the eggs one at a time and quickly stir to combine.
6. Combine the cheese with the dough, reserving one tablespoon for topping the puffs before baking.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment and drop about one tablespoon of dough every two inches to allow space for the gougères to rise. Place the remaining cheese on top of each puff.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the gougères turn golden. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Source/Credit: Kelly Page at Girls’ Guide to Paris


Maybe this recipe will render a smile & a peaches and cream complexion, as well.  Bon appetit!

Yield: 8 servings


1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

Pinch of salt

5 cups thickly sliced, pitted (but not peeled) peaches (4 to 5 peaches)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup heavy cream


Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch pie plate, or a tart pan with a removable bottom.*

In a bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add flour, ¼ cup sugar and salt; work with your hands until all the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture feels like coarse sand. Spread mixture into prepared pan and press down. (It will not really come together as a dough until it is baked.) Lay the peaches in a decorative pattern on top. Sprinkle with ½ cup sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon sugar and the extracts. Whisk in cream and carefully pour over peaches, making sure you don’t let the liquid overflow the pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and return to oven. Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden. Allow to cool and set before serving.

*Note: I recommend a 10-inch pie plate. I used a tart pan with a removable bottom, and the liquid began to seep through. If you use a tart pan, put it on a baking sheet, pour in the liquid, sprinkle with sugar, and move the sheet and pan quickly into the oven.

CREDIT: Recipe from: “Cuisine Nicoise: Sun-Kissed Cooking From the French Riviera” by Hillary Davis; Gibbs Smith, 2013

Boeuf Bourguignon

With the approach of cooler, Fall temperatures, this recipe is a French classic – hearty, delicious, and facile (easy) – Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 persons:

  • 1kg of beef: shoulder, shank or blade
  • 2 onions + 4 cloves
  • 200 g of smoked lardons
  • 2 soup spoons of flour
  • 30cl of beef broth
  • 1 bottle of red wine of Burgundy (Bourgogne)
  • 3 carrots
  • oil, salt, pepper, bouquet garni, 2 cloves of garlic


Let the meat marinate overnight in pieces of 50g approximately with 1 onion dotted with cloves, the bouquet garni, and the carrots cut in 3 or 4.

In a cast iron stewpot, brown the meat in a bit of oil, lardons, onions and meat, then sprinkle with the flour and cook a few minutes.  Then add all the other ingredients, the wine, the broth, and let it simmer for approximately 3 hours (it is cooked when the meat is tender)

Serve with boiled potatoes or tagliatelli pastas with butter and a good red wine of Burgundy (Bourgogne).

Source/credit: French Today

Gallic Garlic

“France produces 18,500 tons of garlic per year, in areas scattered throughout the country. Several varieties have what is called an IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée), a European label that guarantees the region of production, and specific growing and preparation standards.

Among the primary garlic varieties in France are l’ail rose de Lautrec (Midi-Pyrénées), l’ail blanc de Lomagne (Midi-Pyrénées), l’ail d’Auvergne, l’ail de la Drôme, l’ail de Provence, l’ail fumé d’Arleux (Nord-Pas-de-Calais), l’ail de Cherrueix (Bretagne) and l’ail violet de Cadours (Midi-Pyrénées), the only garlic with an Appellation d’Origine Controlée, a hard-won pedigree that underscores the quality as well as the cultivation and preparation of the garlic.

There are two major categories of garlic in France—that planted in spring and that planted in the autumn. Both are harvested in July. One of the more distinctive varieties is the mild ail rose de Lautrec, with a rigid central stem that makes it impossible to braid. Instead, growers first peel the heads down to the first skin, so the pink shows through, then tie it into fat, heavy bouquets.

Another variety that stands out is the golden smoked garlic of northern France. Its production is concentrated around the town of Arleux in the Pas-de-Calais region, and it represents ten percent of French garlic production. The cloves are pink, but smoking over a peat fire obscures their color and turns the outer skins deep golden and slightly sticky. The reason for the smoking is the climate. The north is damp, without enough sun to dry the garlic; the smoke preserves it, preventing it from getting moist and spoiling.

Garlic generally lasts well until Christmas, though certain varieties are given a mild heat treatment that extends their shelf life until May. Contrary to popular wisdom, garlic is best kept in a dark spot at room temperature. If there is a green germ inside a garlic clove, it should be removed. There is nothing wrong with it other than its texture, which is somewhat tough.”


This sauce evokes Provence at its productive best, in summer, when farms and family gardens are at their peak, yielding vegetables with an incomparable depth of flavor.

Note: When making aioli—or any mayonnaise-style sauce—think slow, slow, slow as  you add the oil. If you do, then you’re guaranteed success. But if the aioli does separate, put an egg yolk in another bowl and slowly whisk the separated aioli into it.

6 garlic cloves, green germ removed

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp Dijon mustard

3 large egg yolks

2 cups (500 ml) grape seed or other neutral oil

1/2 cup (120 ml) fine quality, extra-virgin olive oil

2 to 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Make a paste of the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle, by working the pestle around slowly, always in the same direction, in the mortar. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, either finely mince the garlic with the salt, transfer it to a medium-sized bowl and press on it with a wooden spoon until it makes a rough paste; or simply mince the garlic and salt together in a food processor and transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl.

2. Whisk in the mustard and egg yolks until they are blended with the garlic and salt. Then, using either the pestle or a whisk, add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the neutral oil very slowly in a fine, fine stream, until the mixture becomes thick. Don’t add the oil too quickly or  the mixture will not emulsify.

3. Add 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice to the oil and garlic mixture, then add the remaining oil very, very slowly, whisking or turning the pestle constantly. The aioli will gradually thicken to the consistency of a light mayonnaise. Adjust the seasoning, and add more lemon juice if it needs more tang. If it becomes very, very thick you might add 1 tablespoon of warm water to loosen it.

4. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Aioli will keep for several days in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, but is best served within 24 hours of being made.

About 6 servings

Susan Herrmann Loomis teaches cooking classes in Normandy and Paris.

by Susan Herrmann Loomis for France Today

French Riviera Icon

Personally, I always order Salade Niçoise “sans the Niçoise”, as I don’t like anchovies or tuna – this can elicit a smile or frown from the most discriminating of serveurs!

Sip a glass of crisp, cool Rosé, too, for a true French Riviera dining experience!

“You’ll find many different versions and ingredients in this one-plate, all-inclusive meal. Julia Child would have you boiling potatoes to slice and throw in, while Jacques Médecin, the former mayor of Nice and a gourmand, would never dare include the starchy tuber in his salad because it needs to be cooked, and he believes that everything in the salad should be raw except for the hard-boiled eggs.”


Salade Niçoise

Serves 4.

1 medium shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from approximately 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
optional: fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, parsley

2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce
1 pound green beans, French if possible
8 anchovies packed in olive oil
8 ounces canned albacore tuna in olive oil
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup black Niçoise olives
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved

1. Place minced shallot, lemon juice and Dijon mustard in a bowl and whisk.
2. Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture until combined.
3. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
5. Trim the ends of the green beans.
6. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for approximately 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain the beans and place them in a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking and keep them crisp.
7. Arrange the washed greens in a large bowl and dress with the vinaigrette.
8. Place each additional ingredient on top and drizzle the remainder of the vinaigrette. Salt and pepper as needed.

(Credit: Girls Guide to Paris)

Spiced Chocolate Mousse

“French women choose their own indulgences and compensations.  They understand that little things count, both additions and subtractions, and that as an adult everyone is the keeper of her own equilibrium..” From the French Woman’s Manifesto

Spiced Chocolate Mousse (Serves 4)spiced choc mousse


7 ounces dark chocolate (70% to 80% cacao preferred), chopped

4 eggs, separated, at room temperature

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup crème fraîche

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. In a double boiler insert set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the chocolate cool slightly. It should feel warm but not hot to the touch.

  2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed while gradually incorporating half of the sugar. When the egg whites almost form stiff peaks, add the remaining sugar and beat until glossy. Remove the whipped egg whites and place in a large bowl. Clean the mixing bowl and add the crème fraîche, citrus zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and egg yolks and mix for 20 seconds on medium-high speed.  Add the warm chocolate and beat until smooth.

  3. Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites and gently mix. Serve, garnished with additional crème fraîche and orange zest, if desired, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. This may be made 1 day in advance (let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving if chilled).

Article/Photo Credit:   Mireille Guiliano via France Today

“Boo-tear-noot” – “Butternut” – A recipe !

Oh, la la – Potiron? Citrouille? Potimarron? Courge Musquée?  Click here to see the differences in photos (scroll down)!

Butternut  squash is everywhere in the markets now – it’s tasty, easy to cook, and healthy!  Bon Appetit!

“Squash belongs to the cucurbita family, divided into three major varieties:

C. maxima includes most winter squash, including potimarron and Rouge Vif d’Etampes.

C. pepo includes nearly all the common summer squash like zucchini and yellow crookneck, but also spaghetti squash.

C. moschata includes butternut and Musquée de Provence.


This dish can be served as either a first course or a main course. Depending on which, it will serve six to ten.

One 2-pound (1 kg) potimarron (kuri squash)

5 cups (1.25 liters) chicken stock

2 star anise pods

1 tsp coarse sea salt

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 oz (150 g) Roquefort, chilled and cut into thin slices

6 oz (180 g) button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves

Tarragon sprigs for garnish

1. Wash the squash. Cut it in half and discard the seeds (or reserve them for another use), removing the stringy fibers. Cut the halves into 1/2-inch cubes and put them in a large saucepan. Add chicken stock, star anise and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat so mixture simmers, cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 30 min.

2. While squash cooks, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms and stir or shake the pan. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and shaking often, until they are golden and tender—about 5 min. Remove from heat.

3. When squash is cooked, remove star anise and purée the mixture, then pass it through a sieve to remove the skin. Return purée to saucepan. Adjust seasoning. If the purée is very dry, stir in a bit of hot water to make it smooth.

4. Mince tarragon and stir it into the mushrooms.

5. To serve, heat the purée until it’s steaming. Divide it into individual bowls. Top each serving with a slice of Roquefort, then top that with the mushrooms. Garnish with a sprig of tarragon and serve immediately.”

(Article Credit: France Today)

Seven Minute Choco-Almond Truffles

Seven minute Choco-Almond Truffles
Makes 15-20

15 large medjool dates, pitted
100 g dried shredded coconut, unsweetened
100 g raw almonds or nuts of choice
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, room temperature
4 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute or until it forms up like a ball. Remove the knife blades from the food processor. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Then form 15 – 20 small round truffles with your hands; they should be half the size of a golf ball. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder, finely chopped almonds, shredded coconut or rolledoats. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

If you do not have a strong food processor or blender, just place your pitted dates on a plate and mash with a fork until they are sticky and smooth as caramel. Then add the rest of the ingredients and knead by hand until well combined. Place in the fridge and follow the steps above.

Source/Link/Photo:  Green Kitchen Stories

French-Italian Lasagne

I don’t have a cooking gene, but have made over the years, lasagne: an easy, one pan kind of meal.  I hadn’t thought of making it in France though, for some reason, until the other day.  I bought FIORINI brand “Lasagnes aux oeufs” (eggs=19%)which were totally UNlike the American wavy-edged lasagne noodles.  And, there was even a recipe on the back of the box (OK, I admit, this is the real reason I bought it)!

Whoa! I started reading the recipe and it didn’t say to cook the noodles before layering them into the pan – What!? I had to be mis-translating something here, so I then looked at the general cooking directions on the side of the box:

“Ne necessite pas de pre-cuisson” (not necessary to precook)

HUH? I had never made lasagne without first cooking the noodles – so surely, I was not reading the French correctly – but Non, this was correct! I didn’t believe it, but went ahead and layered my UNcooked noodles with my own version of vegetable lasagne, thinking this couldn’t possibly turn out well.

Voila! In 40 minutes, it had finished cooking and was DONE! Now I’m wondering if I really needed to pre-cook American lasagne noodles, or is this a case of cultural cooking differences!?