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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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Le Cordon Bleu - A Little History
Posted: March 31, 2007
ibiblio is a public library & digital archive full of well researched information. You may click on this link and read the full history of Le Cordon Bleu or you may enjoy snippets I’ve pulled for you. Enjoy!
Le Cordon Bleu is a well-established Parisian institution, as venerable as the Eiffel Tower, and almost as old. It dates back to 1895 when a woman named Marthe Distel formed a weekly publication called La Cuisinière Cordon-bleu, in which famous chefs gave courses via articles they wrote and in which she and others shared recipes, gave advice and discussed the pleasures of the table.
The title had been carefully chosen. It derives from the sixteenth-century French knight's order, Ordre du Saint Esprit the most exclusive in France, whose members - royalty included - were called Cordon-bleus after the broad blue ribbons they wore. Nothing was too good for a Cordon-bleu, and the dinners that accompanied their ceremonious meetings were legendary.
In 1827 the first Cordon Bleu cookbook was published called Le Cordon bleu ou nouvelle cuisinière bourgeoise. It remained in print for fifty years, teaching the art of cooking through its recipes. Madame Distel realized that an even better way to teach cooking would be to organize classes where students could see the chef at work and practice under his trained eye. In December 1895 subscribers were informed that "the ever-growing popularity of La Cuisinière Cordon-Blue makes the management feel that it has a duty to find new ways of satisfying those who have faithfully supported our enterprises; hence we have decided to offer free cooking classes to our subscribers and to publish the recipes taught in those classes in future issues of our magazines".
The first Cordon Bleu cookery class was held on January 14, 1896, in Paris's Palais Royal. Its organizers proudly announced a glimpse of the latest in culinary technology - electricity was installed in one of the kitchens! Le Cordon Bleu grew, changed, and flourished in the following decades. Originally a purely Parisian institution, the school quickly became international, and by 1905 students were coming from as far away as Japan to learn French cooking. An article in the London Daily Mail, dated November 16, 1927, described a visit to the school in Paris where, the author writes, "It is not unusual for as many as eight different nationalities to be represented in the classes.... the purpose of the students vary; some are instructors desiring to add further to their qualifications, while others are novices who intend to become chefs".
After the Second World War, Le Cordon Bleu continued to prosper and grow under the direction of Madame Elisabeth Brassart. She welcomed two generations of cooks to Le Cordon Bleu, revised the curriculum, and saw the school receive official recognition. One of the female students who was enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu did more than sense the trend towards "good cooking and eating," she made it a reality in millions of homes across the United States. That woman, a tall energetic American, to whom Madame Bressart awarded the Grand Diplôme du Cordon Bleu was Julia Child.
By the 1950s Le Cordon Bleu represented not only the highest level of culinary training but was a symbol of Paris itself. It seemed only natural for Audrey Hepburn to attend a cookery school in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower when she played the role of Sabrina in the film of the same name. The reference to Le Cordon Bleu could hardly have been more explicit, and the scene in which she learns to make an omelette was yet another illustration of the growing interest in French cooking and Le Cordon Bleu in particular.
Located in the culinary capital of Europe, in a city whose cultural and artistic importance never ceases to grow, Le Cordon Bleu is more than a cooking school. It is an institution devoted to promoting and preserving a fine art - French cooking. The school's name is synonymous with excellence, and it is easy to understand why there is a long list of prospective chefs and cooks eagerly waiting to be admitted and why each year enthusiastic men and women from fifty countries are so eager to cross the threshold at No. 8 Rue Léon Delhomme. These new students know they will be a part of a great tradition and that French cuisine will soon hold no mysteries for them. As time passes, they gain confidence in their skills and, if they apply themselves, they will be awarded one of the school's prestigious diplomas. Those who pass their examinations can feel proud; they are now members of a very special group - graduates of Le Cordon Bleu.
Unique Easter Food Gift
Posted: March 30, 2007
For most holidays food is the centerpiece and Easter is no exception. If you’re seeking a unique food gift for a loved one or special friend, GourmetStation has a solution for you. This year’s 3 course Easter Brunch For Two is light and delicious.
Appetizers start off the experience with Brie en Croute and Asiago Risotto Croquette. These little morsels only take a few minutes in the oven and you can enjoy them while your entrees are finishing. Center of the plate is a delicious chicken breast stuffed with apples, raisins and almonds and a baked salmon with lemon herb sauce. Both are generous portions and served with garden fresh veggies oven roasted in extra virgin olive oil. GourmetStation’s creamy cheesecake with almond slivers tops off the brunch with a sip of Numi organic tea.
Tate's Bake Shop - Now That's A Wow!
Posted: March 26, 2007
Can a story so sweet as a fairy tale be real? Can a passion be so intense that an 11 year old’s dream becomes a reality as big as life? Yes it can…Kathleen King’s dream….Tate’s Bake Shop. When you purchase handmade cookies, pies, dessert squares and other delights from Tate’s Bake Shop you’ll be delighted by the quaint and attractive packaging. The sweet story reads something like this:
“If you’re in the Hamptons and walk around the charming little Atlantic coast town of Southampton, you’ll see a primrose yellow Victoria structure with turquoise shutters, framed in flowers, that seems to attract people like bees to a hive. It’s Tate’s Bake Shop, the fairytale culmination of a dream that got started when 11-year-old Kathleen King began baking cookies to sell at her family’s farm stand not far out of town. Today, those amazing cookies have attracted a loyal following from coast to coast. Crispy and buttery, rich but not overwhelming, they simply melt n your mouth….and just one is never enough!”
Reviewing fine food, especially desserts, is a delightful part of hosting Delicious Destinations. For this review I put together a team of three dessert loves, Charlotte, Julie and me. We reviewed cookies and dessert squares, and I assure you…I’ll try the pies personally for our next spring event.
Charlotte sampled the plain brownie square. The only thing wrong with this delight is the name….nothing “plain” about this treat. The squares are five ounces…what this means is that the portions are so generous, one brownie can be shared….especially if served a la mode with ice cream. Charlotte’s comment was…”it tastes like fudge” (her favorite). No wonder..the square is made from high quality Belgium chocolate and AA butter.
Julie sampled the White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies…..because Julie loves Macadamia anything. She is usually a fan of thicker, chewy cookies, but found Tate’s Macadamia Nut cookies excellent. She said the white chocolate was subtle – not overwhelming. And like me, she enjoyed nibbling on the crumb morsels from the delicate cookies.
I sampled the Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip cookies. There is an art to cookie baking that is known by few. The skill involves balancing high quality, rich ingredients….with a thin crispy cookie. Tate’s has mastered this skill. While I LOVED the chocolate chip cookies, I favored the Oatmeal Raisin. There was a childhood memory that popped up…the eating experience made me feel like a little kid in my Aunt Velma’s kitchen….waiting on her delicious desserts to come out of the oven.
We’re not the only ones who loved Tate’s product. Rachael Ray picked Tate’s products as one of their Overall Favorites in October 2006. Rachel was very creative about other way’s to use Tate’s products:
1) Turn crisp cookies into chewy: Bag them with a slice of bread overnight.
2) Make an instant piecrust: Combine cookies, sugar & melted butter in a food processor.
3) Cook up s’mores: Place a marshmallow between two cookies & microwave for about 10 seconds.
4) Decorate a cake: Press whole cookies around the side of a frosted cake.
5) Form ice cream sandwiches: Spread ice cream between two chewy cookies and freeze
Congratulations Kathleen – job well done!
French Press - For Coffee Lovers Only
Posted: March 24, 2007
Thanks to The Gourmet Retailer for sharing some history and tips on the French Press for in home coffee brewing. Trivia: 1933 was the year that the first French Press patent was applied for although the method was said to be developed in the 1850’s.
So what’s the big deal about a French Press? It’s simple – achieving the perfect cup of coffee – consistently – without a lot of effort. The Gourmet Retailer reminds us that there are 4 key ingredients to brewing an excellent cup of coffee: 1) high quality, freshly roasted ground coffee 2) maintaining water temperature between 192 – 204 degrees F 3) proper surface area contact between water & ground coffee 4) contact time. I’ll add a 5th – sparkling clean equipment. The French Press method achieves optimum results for all these criteria. And because coffee oils are not trapped in a coffee filter, the flavor is richer – not necessarily stronger – just more, well..original.
Ease of use – It’s easy. Start with coarsely ground high quality coffee and about one rounded tablespoon per four-ounce cup. Add hot water. Stir the coffee grinds, replace the lid and let stand for four minutes. Then just push the plunger down slowly and firmly to insure even distribution. The rest is pure ecstasy – you, your perfect cup of coffee and your quiet time.
Try Espresso Zone for a nice French Press selection ranging from $29.99 to $69.99.
Springtime at Casa Bellavista
Posted: March 19, 2007
Spring mornings are a special time of day at Casa Bellavista. The sunrise warms the Val di Chiana. Sometimes, the bells of the Abby di Farneta ring, breaking the silence. The olive trees, fig trees and peach trees of the orchard stretch their branches to the warmth of the morning sun. Across the valley, the City of Cortona awakens to a new day.
It is a bit of a busy time for Simonetta who operates this wonderful Tuscan bed and breakfast. There is gardening to do, flowers to be watered and rooms to be readied for guests. Even in Tuscany, beautiful days can be busy days.
Spring is also when the Frutta e Verdura truck from the south of Italy starts its’ season of bringing prodotti fresci to Casa Bellavista. The truck brings a selection of finocchio, cipolle, pomodori, melone, limone, arance, spinaci, and mozzarella fresca di bufula. The men, who drive the truck, are good negotiators of prices, but Simonetta is more than a good match for them and is able to do well in refilling the pantry for la cucina di Casa Bellavista. One recent time, when the truck left, the kitchen table was full of pomodori, cipole, spinaci and some mozzarella fresca di bufula.
Like many mothers, Simonetta had a challenge...what to do with spinaci freschi. Filippo and Carolina, her children, like many children do not consider spinaci to be their favorite vegetable. The challenge was to figure out how to use the spinaci so Filippo and Carolina would eat it. After a little time to think, the decision was easy. It was time to make Gnocchi di Spinaci, a great spring dish. What a clever way for a mama to get her children to eat spinaci.
· 600 grams of boiled spinach
Pass the spinach through a blender and wring out as much liquid as possible. Add the egg yolks and ricotta cheese, the parmigiano reggiano, the flour and salt and pepper. Work the ingredients together into classic gnocchi dough. Roll the dough out and make the gnocchi
For the seasoning sauce, in a large pot dissolve the butter at a low temperature, add the leaves of sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg. To bring out the flavour, cook for a few minutes on a low fire. Then, add the béchamel (this will serve to render it all more creamy). Boil the gnocchi in abundantly salted water. Drain them and cook them for a few minutes in the prepared sauce. To your taste, add the Parmigiano Reggiano and ground pepper.
Let us know if you like this recipe. We may include it in the cookbook we are writing.
Edie and Dave
Juustoleipa - Cheese From Reindeer Milk
Posted: March 14, 2007
I chose to give up eating meat several years ago and even ventured into the world of the vegan. Two foods held me back from crossing over - one, seafood and the other cheese. The world of cheese is as rich as gold. The variations from country to country are fascinating. If you are a cheese lover, consider Juustoleipa.
Considered a specialty in Finland and Lapland, Juustoleipa may be made from reindeer's milk. Curd is drained and pressed into a flat wooden platter with a rim and placed on fire until the outer layer is toasted. The end result is a crispy cheese that resembles bread (a la the name cheese bread). Under the surface it is rich and creamy. Served at breakfast it is delicious with jam and your favorite hot beverage. Rumor: Santa is said to enjoy Juustoleipa before making his famous annual trek!
Luxury Bloggers & Readers - The L-List Is Here
Posted: March 11, 2007
Thanks to Paul Johnson with A Luxury Travel Blog, you now have a comprehensive and growing list of luxury blogs. Below is your reference list so blog away and enjoy. I took a look at each one of these blogs and there's a wealth of new ideas and new resources for you. From fashion to restaurant reviews to travel to wine....the list is a treasure. If you are a luxury blog writer, join in the fun & help spread the word. Below are instructions from Paul's post on how to distribute and grow this cool list.
By Paul Johnson: If you’re a luxury blogger, here’s what you need to do:
- Write a post.
Blog away you luxury lovers!
B Glam http://www.bglam.com
Quiche For Cheese Lovers
Posted: March 1, 2007
Laurent Madeleni is currently in the US from France and has started her very own French recipe blog - French Gourmet Recipes. I find it exciting to look through the eyes of a French woman, away from home, as she craves the flavors and tastes from her native France. So what does she do? She invites some friends over and prepares her favorite French dish. Read on and enjoy Laurent's experience and recipe for Quiche.
Emotions & Passions by Laurent Madeleni:
I arrived in the US not so long ago but I already missed pleasing my mouth with cheeses flavors. So last time I cooked this Quiche, or Pie, it was 2 weeks ago, and even while I was cooking I was feeling home. A couple of friends joined, they are not French but they love gourmet food, and after 45 min they stop talking - The smells of the melted cheese were teasing our noses: the quiche was ready! Right after I started to cut the quiche in 4 slices, liberating the cheeses smells, it was time to let the flavors take control of our senses! I also suggest to serve this quiche with a lettuce salad, mixed with vinaigrette (next post I will tell you how to make a good vinaigrette!!!)
The 4 Cheeses Quiche - For the Cheese Lovers!
The quiche is always the same basis (eggs and pie shell) - In this recipe I will just change and give you advice to compose with cheeses only.
3 ounces cut chaumes Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F. Hand whip eggs, half-&-half, mayonnaise and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add the onions, the cut Chaumes Cheese, the other cheeses and season the mix with salt and pepper. Pour into an unbaked 9-inch deep pie crust, bake it for 45 min to 1 hour or until the top is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!!