Sitting by a frost bitten window, gazing out at snowflakes dancing around the Eiffel tower. The streets and trees turn from black to white as they were covered with a crisp, thick layer of snow. I sip on a glass of wine tasting each mouth watering bite of my meal at small family owned bistro. I warmed up with carrot ginger bisque, each bite is bright and flavorful, as it warms me to the core. Brie stuffed Statler chicken breast with wine caper sauce accompanied by smashed new potatoes and glazed carrots follows. The breast had a lovely crust that had a cheesy crunch. The breast was moist and juicy and made my mouth water after every bite. My french bistro meal ended with Mousse au Chocolat. It had a delicious dark chocolate flavor but was light and fluffy like the newly fallen snow! Chef Patrice Gerard comes out to the table to see how we were enjoying our meals, he joins us and shares his adventures in cooking. How could I not love winter in France…
Reality check… ok so I didn’t spend a winter in France, but the cooking class I took from Chef Patrice Gerard at Stonewall Kitchen certainly made me fell like I did. Chef Patrice Gerard was born in Paris, France, educated in Switzerland and spent his early years with his grandparents on the small family farm in the Burgundy region of France. He returned to Paris to study culinary arts in his hometown and earned culinary arts degrees from the French government and the European Community. He now is a private chef in the Portsmouth area of New Hampshire.
What has been the latest food trend, of cooking and enjoying whole foods has always been away of life for this Chef. He respects the food he is working with and nothing goes to waste when he cooks. A story Chef Patrice Gerard shared with the class, is when he visits a kitchen for the first time he always checks the garbage cans, if they are full of food, he knows that kitchen does not respect their ingredients. Chef Patrice Gerard was the first guest Chef at Stonewall Kitchen‘s Cooking School and after tasting his food, I understand why he is invited back time and time again.
The food I described in my french fantasy, were all prepared and served to us. The Carrot Ginger Bisque, was a stand out for me and I have made 3 times since our class. It amazes me that such a simple recipe of 5 basic ingredients can have so much flavor and be healthy for you!
The tip for this recipe that I found so useful and fascinating, was to use rice in “creamed” soup instead of cream. The rice acts as a thickening agent and ensures your soup doesn’t have that baby food consistency. Of course in my version I used brown rice and it came out perfect. I garnished by bisque with catalina beans at the end to add a little protein so I could have it as a meal rather than a starter. Finally bonus points for this recipe because it is Vegan!
Carrot Ginger Bisque
Ingredients: 1 lb carrots (peeled and cut in 1/2 inch pieces); 1 leek (white part only, sliced thin); 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger (minced); 1/2 cup white rice; 2 quarts of vegetable stock; 1 Tbsp earth balance (vegan spread/ could use butter if you would like)
Step 1: Chop your carrots and leeks. Peel your ginger and mince. Tip for peeling ginger is to use a spoon, it so easy and help preserve all the juices.
Step 2: Sweat ginger and leeks in earth balance/butter, then add carrots and sweat those as well.
Step 3: Add stock and rice, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft (about 20 minutes).
Step 4: Use an immersion blender or regular blender and puree the soup well. Strain the bisque through a sieve. Step 5: Garnish with a sprig of cilantro or 1/4 cup of catalina beans and enjoy!!
My Challenge for you with this very chilly weather is to find comfort foods that are vegetables based like our Carrot Ginger Bisque!