Cooking with Alex…

When we first planned the itinerary for this road trip, a cooking class was on each of our wish lists. And preferably in Burgundy. But not a commercial cooking class, we didn’t want one of those. We were after local food, local markets, and a small group. Something personal with real stories about eating and living in France. Our day cooking with Alex Miles was all of this. And more. But I digress.

We meet Alex outside Dijon Railway Station, near some coffee shop or another. We had no idea how we’d know him, but he came straight up to us. Obviously, we looked as though we were waiting around to meet a chef for a day of cooking in Dijon…

Alex, a New York pastry chef (amongst other things) in a previous life, has called Dijon home for the past 30 years or so. Over coffee and home-made mini muffins that he produced from his bag, we chat about food and cooking, and life in Dijon.

Onto the markets – which are, as an aside, fabulous…but, of course, I’ve already told you about them, here.  Alex seems to know everyone and at every stall, after he’d made his purchases, a muffin comes out of the bag for the proprietor. Alex has a smile, a bonjour, and a muffin for everyone.

Dijon Markets

Back in Alex’s apartment, we head into the kitchen to start preparing lunch. Before I tell you about lunch, a few words about Alex’s kitchen. Aside from having my dream stove (check it out in the pic below), there is not one inch of space in this kitchen that isn’t utilised – and absolutely nothing is wasted.

I asked about the dark powder in one of the spice jars. It was, Alex told me, vanilla powder. When he’d extracted the seeds from the vanilla pods, he dried the pods and ground them into this deep, fragrant dust. In his words, the amount of garbage most of us have is insane.

The spirit of the leftover that we talked about the other week – remember when I told you about the savoury cake? – is continued here. Bones and leek tops are reserved for stocks and leftover vegetables become soups. The base of the pate we’re served with our kir (blackcurrant liqueur in white wine) is another example of nothing going to waste. The recipe is simple:

  • 1 part leftover chicken or duck
  • 1 part sausage mince
  • 1 part liver
  • 1 part veg

It’s all then bound together with eggs and flour and cooked in a loaf tin

Also on the appetiser plate is jambon persille – essentially a ham terrine with parsley. It, like the crème de cassis we have in our wine, is a Burgundian classic. The persille we’re eating was bought at the markets, but in the name of research, I’m going to have a go at making my own…but that’s for another day.

As we chop vegetables for our spring vegetable starter (I’ve already blogged the recipe – you’ll find it here) Alex prepares the rabbit in mustard sauce – Dijon mustard of course. Alex has sent me the recipes and given his permission for me to share them, so I’ll do that over the next few days. Oh, if you don’t like rabbit, this mustard sauce works really well with chicken as well.

Next, we prepare the Crème d’Amande or Almond Cream for the tart – Alex has already made the crème patisserie and the Pâte Sablée aux Amandes or sweet almond pastry. Treat the pastry as you would a woman, he says.

Finally, it’s time to eat – and drink…so we do. First, the spring vegetables…

Then the Lapin a la Moutarde, rabbit in mustard sauce…

Local cheeses,

and finally that perfect pear tart.

In order to walk off at least some of that fabulous food, Alex leads us on a walking tour around Dijon and presents us with a praline brioche – another classic of the region. It’s the perfect way to finish a fabulous day.

this photo was taken in Lyon

 

If you want to know more about cooking with Alex Miles in Dijon, you can email him at alexmiles47@gmail.com or check out his website here.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


30 Replies to “Cooking with Alex…”

    1. The things you find on google. The friend we were travelling with found this one. It was certainly a lesson that you don’t need a huge kitchen to turn out good meals – it’s about how you utilise the space.

    1. We make it a point to do a cooking class or walking tour wherever we go. Thailand is a fabulous place to do one.

    1. It certainly was – and after spending the last 30 years in France married to a French woman, I think Alex was more French than American.

  1. Oh you cruel cruel woman! That looks amazing and you have no idea how much my mouth is watering, particularly at the thought of rabbit in mustard sauce. My first taste of rabbit was exactly that, but interestingly in a Greek restaurant in Melbourne. It was exemplary.

    1. Ooops…sorry about that lol. I’m a fan of lapin – somehow it sounds less fluffy when you say it like that.

  2. I’m ashamed to say that I have absolutely no appreciation for fine dining or the cooking that goes into it (I’m also not a wine lover) but at the same time I can feel the enjoyment and specialness that came with this experience – it sounds like you had a once in a lifetime memory made that day.

    1. What I loved about this day is that what we made and ate was in essence simple – almost peasant in style – my type of cooking. I love my wine, but am not into unnecessary stuff being done to food. It was a memorable day indeed.

  3. Look love, I did have to scroll the pics (food envy) but what an experience. That sounded just fab and making memories like this from travel is the best.

    Denyse x

  4. Was it just you guys, or others as well?

    I’m afraid such delicacies would be wasted on me, though I do enjoy good food but don’t appreciate what goes into making it!

    Also that kitchen would stress me out – so much clutter!!!

    1. So much clutter & he was amazing to watch in such a small space. My kitchen is 3 times that size! Yep, it was just us…

  5. Now that’s what I call an authentic French cooking class (even though the chef wasn’t French). Your description and the photos of the food you prepared had me salivating, particularly that tart! If I’m ever in Dijon I would love to do this class. Thanks for bringing it to us. My question is: “how did you possibly walk out of there after all that food?”

    1. The strange this was, every class we looked at was run by Americans – weird, hey? In Dijon and Beaune at least. As for walking out of there? Yeah, it was a tad difficult.

  6. Ah yes – there are cooking classes, and there are cooking classes. The trick is picking the difference. This one sounds like the real deal. Thanks.

    1. You’re right there – we make it a point to do a cooking class or a walking tour most places we go, and some are the real deal and some, well, they’re the ones I don’t write about.

    1. Lol…I like to see how the ingredients are put together and the flavours work. I too struggle when I know what is in something – and it’s something that I don’t like!

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