Bienvenue to the eleventh issue of La Marmite featuring the foods of Normandy France.

In this issue you will also find featured:

  • A recipe for baked Camembert and an apple clafoutis recipe.
  • An invitation to join in the discussion.
  • Updates on all that is new at Easy French Food.


La Normandie

Welcome to Normandy France, land of green pastures and apple orchards, fat and happy cows, cream and a lush variety of cheeses. But also a land of fishing villages and all the bounty of the Atlantic - lobster, mussels, sea snails, and much more. If there was ever a land made for a food lover, it is Normandy.

Here are just a few highlights of the gastronomical delights that await you in this northern region of France.

Seafood - Some of the more popular seafood featured in Norman cooking include scallops (coquilles Saint Jacques), mussels (moules), and oysters (huitres). If you have the chance to dine out in Normandy France, order a French seafood platter for an excellent introduction to the variety of shellfish available.

Agneau de pre sale - This is lamb that has been grazed on the salt marshes of Normandy giving the meat a distinctive and highly prized flavor. It is so sought after, that it is difficult to find it for sale outside of the region.

Sausages, etc. - For the braver amongst you, there is an incredible variety of regional specialities that fall under the category of charcuterie. These delicacies include: l’andouille de Vire (sausage made with pork or beef intestines), le boudin blanc d'Essay (bloodless pork sausage made with milk, eggs and various seasonings), and tripes a la mode de Caen (that'd be cow stomach cooked in cider).

Cheeses - Dozens of cheeses are fabricated in Normandy, including Camembert, Neufchatel, Pont-l'Éveque , and Boursin. The mild coastal climate means that the cattle are able to graze on grass for a longer period of time than in other cheese producing regions of France, conferring a distinctive character to Normandy cheeses. Not to be missed!

Other Dairy Products - The milk, butter, creme fraiche, and other dairy products produced in Normandy are reputed as being the best in France, in particular those form the area around Isigny-sur-Mer. There is even an AOC (appellation d'origine controlee) for Isigny cream and milk.

Apples - Where you don't find cows grazing , you are likely to see apples growing in Normandy. Apples are used in all sorts of dishes including pairing them with lamb, rabbit or seafood, and of course they are featured in many desserts. A significant amount of the apples are used to make cider.

Alcohols - There is a long tradition of fermentation and distillation in Normandy. Several of the regional specialities are made from apples, including cider and Calvados, an apple brandy. You will also find pear brandy (poire) and a special liqueur called Benedictine. A trou Normande, as I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, is a palate cleanser made from Calvados that is popular all over France.

Here are two easy recipes to get you started enjoying some of the culinary delights of Normandy France.


Baked Camembert

camembert cheese

Camembert cheese is a perfect place to begin your Norman culinary adventure. This soft uncooked cheese has a downy rind like Brie, and like Brie it melts into something wonderful when you bake it. Although adamant cheese connoisseurs argue that only an unpasteurized product allows the full character of Camembert to flourish, pasteurized cheeses, which you should be able to find, are just fine for cooking.

You can serve the following recipe as an appetizer or even as a small meal. A 250 gram round of baked Camembert served with a few garnishes would make a lovely dinner for two (you could call it a tete a tete normand).

Camembert au four

The simplest way to bake Camembert is in the wooden box in which it comes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove any wrappers or labels from the cheese. Carefully cut the rind off of just the top of the cheese and then place it, cut side up, in the bottom of the box. Place this on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Serve in the box with various things to dip: rounds of baguette, endive leaves, and apple slices are all popular.

Variations: After removing the rind and before baking, you can top the cheese with various things. Popular additions are thyme, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, ground pepper, white wine, and even honey.

Note: Although I don't bother, if you are worried about the box catching on fire, you can soak it in water for a few hours before baking it. This recipe only works with wooden boxes - no plastic or cardboard.


Apple Clafoutis

If you have next to no time but would all the same like to make a little dessert, a clafoutis is always a good bet. This clafoutis includes apples, milk, butter, and apple brandy in a lovely tribute to Normandy France.

apple clafoutis

Clafoutis aux pommes a la normande

For the apples:

  • 3 apples, peeled and cut in eighths
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados or other brandy or rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the batter:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add the apples, 2 tablespoons of sugar, Calvados and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to coat the apples.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with 1/2 cup sugar until blended. Sift the flour on top of this and then whisk until blended. Whisk in the melted butter and finally the milk and salt to make a smooth batter.

Place the apples in a greased 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Pour the batter on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees F. Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.


Smelly Cheese Help

I am a certified cheese freak and I couldn't imagine missing out on the pleasure of French cheese. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting over the smell of cheese and into the pleasure of tasting it? Join in the discussion and help out other frustrated readers.


Quoi de neuf?

Here are a few new recipes that I've added to Easy French Food since the last newsletter:

Quiche Recipes - It's been an eggy month at our house. For an easy dinner or brunch, try one of these tasty recipes.

Salmon Casserole - This was in response to a reader's request.

Crockpot Chicken Provencal - An absolutely delicious and very easy French recipe.


Next Issue:

Hope you enjoyed the culinary tour of Normandy France. Thanks so much for spending some time with me. The next issue, due out on July 23rd, will feature French tatin tarts.

If you're receiving this newsletter because a friend forwarded it to you, you can sign up for your own copy of La Marmite: Subscribe to La Marmite.

A bientot and remember to enjoy your food!

Your friend in France,

Kim


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