www.meganjoychapman.com

Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

Goût de France – Lavender Honey Butter

 Lavender Honey Butter

While in Provence, we picked up two small jars of French lavender honey to give away as gifts when we returned home to Hawaii. But they never made it to our friends. The thick golden nectar of lavender love didn’t have a chance after I experimented one day and mixed it with butter. I was making my Spring Veal Stew for a dinner party and wanted something special to serve with French bread. I thought the sweetness  of the honey would pair well with the stew. And it did. So voila! Lavender Honey Butter was born.

I recommend using Miel De Lavande but if you’re in a pinch you can substitute with another raw local honey that you like. Spread the Lavender Honey Butter on bread, biscuits, rolls, or muffins. Bon Appetit!

Lavender Honey Butter Ingredients

Lavender Honey

1/4 cup or more to taste of Miel De Lavande

4 oz. or one stick of softened butter (I prefer salted butter)

Lavender Honey Butter Directions

Bring butter to room temperature so that it’s soft enough to mix. Add honey and mix together. Stores in fridge for several weeks.

Lavender Honey Butter

Related Links (Coming Soon!)

La Chistera Restaurant Review

Spring Veal Stew

7-Minute Roasted Asparagus

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France – Spring Veal Stew

Spring Veal Stew

I grew up eating Mom’s Veal Parmesan, Veal Marsala, and Veal Picatta—all good to my mother’s credit. But ordering perfectly cooked fresh veal in most restaurants is hard to find. If veal isn’t properly cooked , it can taste like an old leather shoe.

The best veal I’ve ever tasted was in France. While visiting Arles, I tried the veal stew at La Chistera and was surprised at the simplicity of the dish—no vegetables, no frills—just small pieces of delicate veal in a thick red sauce. But it tasted very fresh, tender, and flavorful.

When I tried to create a recipe similar to the one I had in Arles, I failed. Although my husband liked it, I thought it tasted too much like beef stew. Veal shouldn’t taste like beef—it should taste like veal. So I tried something different and made a white wine herb sauce instead, and then cooked it in a crock-pot.

The combination of herbs, wine, and vegetables complement the veal beautifully without overpowering the dish. A hint of cream mixed in at the end adds a supporting role of richness while the veal remains the star. I like serving this with French bread and Lavender Honey Butter. Bon Appetit!

Spring Veal Stew Ingredients

2 lbs. veal (stew meat cut into ¾-1” chunks)

¼ cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 onion (2 cups chopped. I prefer Maui sweet)

2 teaspoons Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet

1 cup white wine (make sure it is something you like because flavors intensify as you cook)

1.5 lbs. mini potato medley (cut into ¾-1” chunks)

4 carrots (3 cups cut into ¾-1” chunks)

*Reserve 1 extra cup of chopped carrots for last half-hour of cooking

8 oz. button mushrooms (cut into ¾-1” chunks)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2-2 ½ cups chicken stock

1 cup peas (will be added at the end)

1 cup whipping cream (will be added at the end)

Herbs (tied together with kitchen string)

1 handful fresh parsley

3 ribs celery with leaves

1 bay leaf

 

Spring Veal Stew Directions

Veal Stew Vegetables

Mix ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper inside a large medium sized bowl. Add the veal chunks and toss to combine with the flour mixture.

veal stew preparation

In a heated skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon EVOO over medium high heat. Add ½ of the veal in an even layer.

Veal Stew Preparation

Brown on all sides, careful not to burn. Using tongs is helpful to break up the sticky pieces. Cook about 1 minute per side. It’s OK if it’s still pink since we’ll be adding the veal to a crockpot.

Veal Stew Preparation

Once veal is browned, transfer to a dish. Repeat this process by adding 1 tablespoon of the butter and oil to the pan. Brown the other half of the veal and set aside on dish.

 veal stew preparation

In a food processor, add chopped garlic and onions, Gravy Master, and 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and grind ingredients till combined.

Veal Stew Preparation

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the same skillet.

Veal Stew Preparation

Add 1 tablespoon of flour, stirring vigorously to combine. Add the gravy mixture from the food processor. Using a spatula, deglaze the pan and pick up all the leftover veal bits, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a gentle boil, stirring about 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat.  Add the reserved veal, along with all the veal juices that have accumulated, back to the skillet and toss to coat.

 Veal Stew Preparation

To a crock-pot  add the veal mixture from the skillet. Then add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary. Pour in chicken stock and add the tied herbs on top.

Veal Stew

Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Cook slowly for 4-6 hours. *I like to add an extra cup of carrots to the pot in the last half-hour of cooking so they stay vibrant and al dente. Add the peas and cream to the hot crockpot about five minutes before serving so that the peas stay green and the cream doesn’t curdle. Serve with French bread, Lavender Honey Butter, and good wine.

Related Links

La Chistera Restaurant Review

7-Minute Roasted Asparagus

Lavender Honey Butter

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France – Roman Ruins of Arles

 

Arles

Rustic age-old town of Arles, France. A glimpse of the 2,000 year old Roman amphitheatre is spotted here in the background.

Traveling to Arles from Saint Remy

After a good workout and some breakfast we hopped into our rent-a-car and journeyed out to see first-century B.C. Roman ruins in the historical town of Arles, France—otherwise known as the place where Vincent Van Gogh sliced off his ear.

 Country back road Provence

The scenic drive on the way to Arles led us through winding country back roads overlooking rocky mountain landscapes.

 Les Baux

 The crown-shaped castle village of Les Baux was so striking; the four of us decided it was a must-see while staying in Saint Remy-de-Provence. So we planned to venture back on another day.

Les Baux

Deanna (left) Me (right) enjoying the view of Les Baux.

 

Arles Classical Theater

Our first stop in Arles was to the Classical Theater (Théâtre Antique) a restored Roman ruins theater still used today for concerts and special events.

 

It’s hard to believe that in the Middle Ages, 27 arches encased the theater.

Classic Theater Arles

One of the 27 arches still in tact

The original structure was 3-levels which required 33 rows of seats to accommodate the high demands for seating. What’s left of the Classic Theater now seats 3,000 people.

Classical Theater Arles

I believe this wall, or what’s left of a wall, once supported the highest seating level.

columns Arles

Only two Corinthian columns out of 100 remain from the 3-story stage wall.

Column Arles

Close-up of remaining columns

orchestra pit Arles

Orchestra Pit

ruined column Arles

Ruined Columns

Megan Joy Chapman - Arles

Pondering the 2,000 year old history of my theatrical roots.

Arles

Theater rubble

St. Trophime Church

Theater rubble from the Classic Theater was used to build St. Trophime Church, a Roman Catholic church that was built between the 12th and 15th century.

St. Trophime Church Arles

St. Trophime Church

St. Trophime Church Arles

Main entrance of St. Trophime Church

 According to travel guru, Rick Steeves, “this church sports the finest Romanesque main entrance I’ve seen anywhere.”

Arles Roman Arena

Our next stop just a stone toss away was the Roman Arena (Amphitheatre).

Roman Arena Arles

Construction outside the arena

Amphitheatre Arles

Inside the amphitheatre

Dating back to 90 A.D., Arles Roman Arena was a popular venue for 20,000 spectators who enjoyed watching chariot races as well as gladiators fight wild game. Bullfights, plays, and concerts still run today, entertaining residents and visitors of Arles.

Amphitheatre Arles

In the 5th century the amphitheatre’s arches were bricked up and it became its own town with 200 homes and 2 chapels.

 

Arena hallway Arles

Hallways surrounding the arena.

plaque

A plaque listing the principal amphitheaters of the Roman world.

shopping Arles

Of course the day wouldn’t be complete without a little shopping. I bought myself some French wall hangings and postcards outside the arena.

The Cryptoporticos

city hall arles

City Hall of the entrance into the cryptoporticus.

Arles cryptoporticus dates back to the 1st century B.C. and was built as an underground support or foundation for the town forum. It now supports the Chapel of the Jesuit College and City Hall.

Cryptoporticus Arles

Inside the creepy crypt

 

The cryptoporticus was also believed to have been a storage space as well as a barracks for slaves. The underground tunnels were damp, cold, dark, and musty. The four of us were the only people down there…hmmm I wonder why?

Oddly enough the crypt used to be at street level over two thousand years ago! Since then Arles has buried about 20 feet of history with renovations.

The Rhone River

After a long leisurely 3-course lunch at La Chistera, we did some more walking and sightseeing and ended our time in Arles at the Rhone River. The Rhone runs from Switzerland to the South of France. It’s one of the major rivers of Europe.

Rhone River Arles

The Rhone River

Related Links (Coming Soon!)

La Chistera Restaurant Review

Spring Veal Stew

7-Minute Roasted Asparagus

Lavender Honey Butter

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: La Chistera Restaurante Review – Arles – France

La Chistera Restaurante

La Chistera Restaurante in Arles, France

The 2,000-year-old medieval town of Arles was filled with history and character—Roman ruin theaters, museums, rustic homes, shops, restaurants, and lots of little maze-like side streets to explore.

 La Chistera Restaurante - Side Street

Rather than do the typical-type-tourist thing and eat in the busy town square, we decided to venture off to see if we could find a local gem hidden away in the back alleyways of Arles.

 La Chistera Restaurante - walkway

Thankfully we stumbled upon La Chistera Restaurante, a chef-owned café run by a lovely couple. I’m guessing they had Spanish roots since Chistera is Spanish for Red Hat. And our waitress—minus the red dress and castanets—could have passed for a beautiful Flamenco Dancer with her sleek long dark hair, brown eyes, and olive-colored skin. A Spanish influence in Arles isn’t surprising, considering the local bullgames and bullfights held at the Roman Arena.

 la chistera restaurante

I’ve always been very particular in choosing restaurants because it’s all about the experience for me. Dining is a hobby of mine and I want it to appeal to all my senses. I’m not much of a white-table-cloth-restaurant kind of girl. I’m more of a casual-quaint-eclectic atmosphere, good service, and interesting menu kind of girl. La Chistera met all my criteria.

 la chistera restaurante inside

The inside was a tiny shoe-box with about 8-10, two-top tables—the outside had only four tables. We chose to dine alfresco so we could people-watch.

The walls were painted a joyful rose color and the waitress (or wife of Chef) was very sweet and did her best to communicate with us in English.

A Glimpse of the Menu at La Chistera Restaurante

La Chistera Restaurante Menu

Scallops with Frois Grois (Duck Liver) wrapped in Pastry

We started with a scallop and frois grois appetizer that was served in a shell and wrapped in pastry. I can’t believe the amount of duck liver I ate in France! I actually loved liver as a kid but want no part of it as an adult—until I went to France. I guess there’s just something about being in a foreign country that makes you want to live on the edge and experience the adventure of local fare—no matter what it is. I haven’t touched liver since and don’t plan to—unless I go back to France. It’s quite tasty on a baguette.

La Chistera Restaurante Menu

Antipasto

Deanna and Link ordered the antipasto for their main course which came with a fresh local goat cheese.

Chap and I had the veal stew served with scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and roasted red pepper with caramelized carrots. We dug in too quickly to get a picture of it. But it was delicieux! The stew was very simple—no vegetables— only tiny cubed morsels of tender veal served in a mild fresh red sauce.

The scalloped potatoes were the best I’ve ever tasted and should be illegal. Creamy, cheesy, buttery euphoria. The side of asparagus, roasted red pepper and caramelized carrots were aldente, perfectly cooked and seasoned.

For dessert we ordered a variety on the menu and shared—Crème Brulee Pistache, Raspberry Panacotta, and a chocolate croissant.

La Chistera Restaurante Menu

Crème Brulee Pistache

 The Crème Brulee Pistache was a bit disappointing. The crust was scorched and bitter, and I thought the pistachio custard was somewhat grainy. I have to admit I’ve had better.

La Chistera Restaurante Menu

Chocolate Croissant

 The chocolate croissant was unexpected—not like a typical croissant. It was more cakey than flaky and served with a dollop of whipped crème and gelato.

We didn’t get a photo of the Raspberry Panna Cotta. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was still fresh and creamy. Most desserts we had in France were not as sweet as we’re used to in America so it took some getting used to.

We finished our meals off with a café –small cups like espresso. So heads up if you want American-sized, you’ll need to ask for un grand café. It’s also their custom in France to bring your coffee after dessert.

Overall I’d highly recommend La Chistera Restaurante. The four of us left the restaurant fully satisfied, having experienced a classic French meal with an endearing atmosphere—Four-and-a-half stars!

Related Links (Coming Soon!)

The Roman Ruins of Arles, France

Spring Veal Stew

7-Minute Roasted Asparagus

Lavender Honey Butter

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

I’m a big fan of coconut milk. When a recipe calls for cow’s milk, I find myself substituting with coconut milk a lot, because it’s easier to digest and has many health benefits. It’s also creamy and satisfying.

 Benefits of coconut milk include: 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, 110 percent of the daily recommendation of manganese, and is also high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, folate, and vitamin C.

While visiting France I had my first Macaron Gelato—full fat, full cream. It was heavenly but I immediately wondered what it would taste like using coconut milk. I just feel better knowing that I’m eating vitamin rich foods all the time. So I recreated France’s Macaron Gelato using coconut milk along with dairy and gluten free macaroon cookies.

My Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet recipe is fast and easy but requires a Vitamix blender. The Vitamix is expensive but worth it—especially if you like to cook and eat healthy.  Every few months Costco has a Vitamix Roadshow offering the best prices.

So if you like coconut milk, you’ll love this tasty treat. Hints of chewy macaroon cookies for added texture are the pièce de résistance. Bon Appetit!

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet Ingredients

2- 13.66 oz. cans of coconut milk (I use full fat organic Thai Kitchen)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

8 macaroon cookies (I use raw Coco Roons or Jennies Macaroons from my local health food store)

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet Ingredients

Coco Roons are about 1 ½ tablespoons each in size

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet Directions

Open two cans of coconut milk. After stirring the contents in the cans, reserve ½ cup and store in fridge. In a medium sized bowl, add the remainder or 1 ½ cans of coconut milk. Whisk in the agave, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour mixture into two ice cube trays and freeze until set—about 2 hours.

 Coconut Milk

Add  the ½ cup of reserved coconut milk to a Vitamix blender along with the frozen coconut milk cubes and macaroons- in this order.

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet Ingredients

Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to High. Use the Tamper Tool to press the cubes down into the blade and accelerate the process.

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

Try not to overwork the mixture otherwise it will melt. The texture will be like soft-serve ice cream with macaroon cookie bits swirled in. Serve immediately.

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

Related Links

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint Remy de Provence

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Provencal Chicken Sausage

 Provencal Chicken Sausage

Our first three days in France were spent indulging in foods we don’t normally eat on a daily basis—like French sausage and cured meats, fresh from the Farmers Market. The varieties of sausage displayed at the open markets were unbelievable, offering a huge selection of flavors like herb, garlic, fennel, and pepper— just to name a few.

Market Day Sausage

Having our larger meal for lunch, like true Frenchies, we’d usually have a smaller market day meal at night. This usually consisted of cheese, sausage, cured meat, bread, olives, and whatever else looked good to us that day. But after three days of eating this way, my fingers swelled and I wondered if I’d have to have my rings cut off.

Our rookie digestions were also less to be desired. I guess the French have cast-iron stomachs or maybe they’re born with a special salt filter. One night my husband had heartburn so bad, we thought he might be having a heart attack! So after a few days of stress and discomfort, we took a break and tried eating a bit lighter for the next few days. Wussie Americans.

Although I love the taste of salty cured fresh meats, they’ve become an occasional indulgence. But my Provençal Chicken Sausage is a healthy alternative which eliminates the hard-to-digest sausage casing. I use this recipe all the time in a variety of dishes. It especially works well added as a topping to my Rustic Provencal Pizza, tossed in my Roasted Provencal Tomato Sauce, or in my Market Day Stuffed Mushrooms (Coming Soon!). No more swollen fingers, crazy digestion, or heart attacks for this crew. Bon Appetit!

Provencal Chicken Sausage Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts (about 2 large boneless breasts cut in chunks)

1 lb. chicken thighs (about 4 cut in chunks)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

½ -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 heaping tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped

¼ cup chopped shallot (about 1 shallot)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons for sautéing)

Parchment paper for freezing

Provencal Chicken Sausage Directions

Grind chicken chunks in a food processor. Add rest of ingredients and blend until well incorporated, scraping the sides of bowl as needed. Mixture will be sticky.

 Raw Provencal Chicken Sausage

I prefer making this a day ahead and then storing it in the fridge to allow the flavors to marry. You can also store in the freezer to use at a later date.  Just divide the mixture in half, scoop each onto parchment, and then roll into a log. Twist ends of parchment to seal and label the logs. Place logs in a Ziploc and Freeze until needed. Each log should be about 1 lb.

Sausage in Parchment

When you’re ready to cook your sausage, add 2 tablespoons of EVOO to a heated skillet and sauté sausage by breaking it up with a spatula.  If you’re taking the sausage from the freezer, make sure it’s fully defrosted. Cook till lightly browned and heated through.

Provencal Chicken Sausage

Related Links

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint Remy de Provence

Rustic Provencal Pizza 

Provencal Tomato Sauce

Market Day Stuffed Mushrooms (Coming Soon!)

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Provencal Tomato Sauce

Provencal Tomato Sauce, Ingredients

I’m an Artist-Foodie-Creationista who likes instant gratification. And although I prefer eating fresh, homemade, all-natural foods, I don’t want to spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen. So I’m always seeking ways to simplify my recipes without sacrificing quality and flavor.

For instance, I’m generally against buying premade or packaged sauces. Nothing beats the fresh taste of homemade. But when it comes to making traditional tomato sauce, the extra steps of boiling, shocking, peeling, and seeding makes me want to run for the hills of Les Alpilles.

My Provencal Tomato Sauce recipe using sweet grape tomatoes is brilliant because there’s no need to spend time removing the skins, and their natural sweetness is unmatchable. Just roast them with some extra virgin olive oil and a little seasoning. Then grind them up in a food processor with some herbs. Don’t let the anchovy paste scare you. It adds tons of flavor without a strong anchovy taste. Bon Appetit!

(Step 1) Provencal Tomato Sauce Ingredients

2 lbs. red sweet grape tomatoes cut in half (about 4 cups)

2 garlic cloves in skins

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

(Step 2) Provencal Tomato Sauce Ingredients

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ tablespoon anchovy paste

2 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Provencal Tomato Sauce Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half. Toss Step 1 ingredients in a bowl to distribute oil and seasoning. Spread the mixture out evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Provencal Tomato Sauce, Ingredients

Roast for about 15 minutes or until bubbly. Garlic will be soft.

 Provencal Tomato Sauce, Ingredients

When cool enough to handle, remove the skins of the roasted garlic. Transfer roasted garlic and tomato mixture to a food processor and add Step 2 ingredients. Pulse until well combined and smooth, scraping the edges with a spatula as needed. Pour sauce into a small saucepan and simmer on medium heat about 10 minutes, careful not to burn.

Provencal Tomato Sauce

Before serving, make sure to taste your sauce to see if it needs any extra seasoning! Use on top of my Rustic Provencal Pizza or toss with your favorite pasta. Sauce makes about 1 ¾ cup.

Related Links

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint Remy de Provence

Rustic Provencal Pizza 

Provencal Chicken Sausage

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Rustic Provençal Pizza

Pizza

I’m embarrassed to admit that my first meal out in foodie France was pizza. Like typical American travelers on-the-go, we were late. Having slept in and indulged in a large breakfast on our first day—then of course sightseeing and shopping—caused us to miss France’s punctual lunch hour from noon-2 pm. So when we plopped ourselves down in a brasserie  at a few minutes passed 2 and asked for four menus, we got a glare down the snauze and a recommendation to try Pizzeria Aldo around the corner.

As we we were leaving the brasserie, the waitstaff snickered amongst themselves, at our expense, and hollered, “Tell him Vinny sent you!”

Pizza

The good news is that Aldo was quite friendly and happy to have our business. He wore bifocals that made his eyes appear freakishly large and greeted us with a smile.

He served us a rustic looking thin crust pizza that had been baked in a brick oven. The sauce was milder then we’re used to in the States and could have used a bit more kick. But the crust was tender and crispy. My husband didn’t care much for Aldo’s pizza because of the lack of spice. He prefers my spicier Roasted Provençal Tomato Sauce made with sweet grape tomatoes.

In my recipe remake, the pizza stone replaces the brick oven and ensures a tender crispy crust. And I love using premade Stonefire Naan bread! It makes this recipe fast and easy. In fact, I actually prefer the taste and texture of Naan better, rather than fresh pizza dough. In the past I’ve always made my own crust, but once my husband and I discovered Naan, we’ve never gone back.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. Bon appetit!

Rustic Provençal Pizza Recipe

Ingredients
2, Stonefire Naan’s Mediterranean flat bread
½ cup (divided) of my Roasted Provençal Tomato Sauce
Toppings optional (consider my Provencal Chicken Sausage or sautéed mushrooms)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into half-moon discs
Red and yellow sweet grape tomatoes (about ¼ cup per Naan, sliced in discs)
Freshly chopped rosemary (about ½ teaspoon per Naan)
Large pizza stone

Directions
Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500 degrees. When oven reaches 500 degrees, carefully remove hot pizza stone from oven. Remember it will be very hot so use good oven mitts. Place the Naan’s on the hot stone. Top each Naan with ¼ cup of my Roasted Provençal Tomato Sauce.

Provencal Sauce

If you’re using toppings like my Provençal Chicken Sausage, add them on top of sauce.

Pizza Toppings

Evenly distribute sliced mozzarella over toppings.

Adding Cheese

Garnish with sliced red and yellow grape tomatoes. Sprinkle freshly chopped rosemary on top. *Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees and bake on bottom rack 20-25 minutes or until desired crispness. With a pizza cutter slice each Naan into four pieces (Serves about 4 people with 2 slices each). Serve with a side salad.

Recipe Remakes

Macaroon Sorbet, Dairy and Gluten Free

Provençal Tomato Sauce

Provençal Chicken Sausage

Related Link:

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint Remy de Provence

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Saint Remy de Provence

Waking up in the South of France for the first time was dreamy. The sun was shining, birds chirping, and my husband was making breakfast for the four of us—eggs, fresh Provençal sausage, fried potatoes, with a side of Gouda cheese—Yikes! My typical breakfast in Hawaii is usually an organic green smoothie after a killer workout. But I’m in France here— so who cares.

While Chap slaved in the kitchen, I enjoyed some quiet time alone with my coffee in the garden.  The perfect weather was a blessing because we’d been told that it had rained for weeks before we had arrived.

Saint Remy de Provence

Soothing church bells chimed in the distance as I read my Bible. It was Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and with over 12 hours of needed sleep from jet-lag  the bells clarified that we had already missed the service we’d planned to attend.  So with no rush to be anywhere, we all took our time enjoying the morning at L’Harmas.

Saint Remy de Provence

The Historical Town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

After breakfast we took a 20-minute walk into the historical town square to acquaint ourselves with Saint-Rémy (sahn ray-mee). Since the beginning of the 20th century, St. Rémy has attracted people like me—artists, writers, and painters to its quaint medieval village tucked away in the rugged limestone hills of Les Alpilles.

Saint Remy de Provence

Limestone hills view from L’Harmas

Rémy is also known for the Saint-Paul de Mausolée Asylum where Vincent Van Gogh admitted himself after cutting off his ear. His stay from 1889-1890 was brief but Van Gogh created some of his best masterpieces at the asylum, including 143 oil paintings and over 100 drawings.

Saint Remy de Provence

Asylum in Saint-Remy, painted by Vincent Van Gogh

Boutiques, galleries, specialty shops, unique cafes, and restored houses line the rustic side streets of Saint-Rémy.

Saint Remy de Provence

 

Saint Remy de Provence

Wine shop offering gourmet snacks and gifts

 

Saint Remy de Provence

People actually drive down these streets-and fast to boot. Check out the parking garage on the right. But at least there’s a hospital, too, just in case you don’t quite make the turn!

Winding short alleyways lead into the shady town square. Ancient stone fountains are scattered throughout the old-world village.

Saint Remy de Provence

Our first stop on our excursion was Saint Martin Church where I’d heard the bells chiming earlier. The church is St Rémy’s largest building and planted in the center of the town square.

Saint Remy de Provence

Saint Martin Church dates back to the 14th century but after a collapse in 1818, it was rebuilt in the 19th century.

Saint Remy de Provence

The temperature inside the large stone structure was cold but peaceful, smelled of incense, had ginormous chandeliers, detailed painted walls, and vibrant stained glass.

Saint Remy de Provence

Saint Martin’s is renowned for its organ. St. Remy’s Organa Festival welcomes some of the finest organists in the world to perform a series of free concerts between July and September.

Saint Remy de Provence

The architecture of the mammoth archways, stonework, and moldings were quite impressive.

 Saint Remy de Provence

Me (left) and Deanna (right) on the steps outside Saint Martin

Saint-Rémy de Provence

Me and Chap feeling like superstars in Saint-Rémy (hence the stars on the pavement!).

Next ,we ventured off to find lunch but because of our late start that morning, we missed it. So we ended up having to eat at an Italian pizzeria. I know! My first meal out in France was pizza. Crazy! But at least I was able to create a good recipe remake for Rustic Provençal Pizza.

After lunch we waited in a long line for gelato. I think the last time I had an icecream cone was back in high school. I’m more of a Vitamix-Smoothie-Girl these days. Healthier. But again—I’m in France, so who cares.

Saint Remy de Provence

Chap’s eyeing my Macaron Gelato. He preferred it over his Pistache. Pizza for lunch and gelato for dessert—I wondered if we were in Italy instead of France.

Deanna and I ducked into a shop to try on hats. They were super cute but also super expensive. I was dead set on buying a fun one while in France, but it was hard for me with my fashion design background to pay 250 euros ($336.72 American dollars) knowing I could make one just like it. Of course I never will—make one for myself, that is—but just saying.

Saint Remy de Provence

Deanna on left, Me on right feeling très français dans des chapeaux.

Saint Remy de Provence

Chap with backpack on in store talking me out of buying expensive hat.

Before heading back to our castle we hit a boulangerie for pastries and bread, then walked home. Other than eating mostly Italian our first day, it was a perfect Sunday in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Saint Remy de Provence

Link is Bread Guy on left, Chap on right. And no, they’re not holding hands. LOL.

Recipe Remakes

Coconut Milk Macaroon Sorbet

Rustic Provençal Pizza

Provençal Chicken Sausage

Read this story from the beginning here:

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy

Chicken

The chickens we had in France were insanely good. Even the chickens sold in the grocery stores were exceptional. But I especially loved seeing the rotisseries at the farmers markets. I’d literally start salivating as I watched the chicken slowly rotate on the spit while its juices seasoned the potatoes below. And the best part was that the meat in France was always fresh and organic—a major plus. I’m not a fan of antibiotics so try to eat organic as much as possible, especially when it comes to chicken.

So I had to wonder . . . Should I even bother trying to recreate a recipe for French rotisserie chicken? I mean, how can you perfect perfection? But after a little research and many chickens later, I think I may have unlocked the secret to tender, succulent, mouthwatering chicken. But here’s the kicker—you won’t need a rotisserie to achieve it. The secret is brining and butter.

Brining the meat first is key to locking in juices. And don’t judge me— but the ungodly amount of butter in my recipe adds tons of flavor as well. I don’t generally cook with a lot of butter, but if I want to compete with the French, let’s face it—it’s a must. Just follow my easy brining recipe along with the recipe below and you’re on your way to poulet rôti parfait every time. Bon Appetit!

Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy Recipe

Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy Ingredients
2-2 ½ lbs. fingerling potatoes (or any small potato medley)
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 carrot cut in chunks
1 onion cut in chunks
1 celery stalk cut in chunks
½ teaspoon Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet

Roasted Chicken Ingredients
One 4-5 lb. brined chicken rinsed, patted dry, giblets removed
1 stick unsalted butter, softened (the brining adds salt so I recommend unsalted butter)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 extra sprig of rosemary and thyme for cavity
2 extra sprigs of rosemary for breasts
2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
More salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a roasting pan, toss the veggie chunks and potatoes with the garlic, rosemary, EVOO, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Scatter veggies and potatoes into a single layer to create a bed for the chicken.

In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter, Dijon, shallot, rosemary, thyme, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. With your fingers, slather the butter mixture under the skin, inside the cavity, and over the top of the chicken. Add the extra sprigs of rosemary under the skin of the chicken breast for added flavor. Add the other sprig of rosemary and thyme into the cavity. With kitchen string, tie the chicken legs together. Place coated chicken breast side up, on top of the veggies and potatoes. Brining the chicken does add salt but I still season the outside with a little S and P—about ½ teaspoon more salt and ¼ teaspoon more pepper.

Chicken

Place chicken, potatoes, and veggies in oven for about 1 hour for 4 pounds or 1 hour and 15 minutes for 5 pounds. Roast until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees F and juices run clear. The potatoes should be soft with a good amount of juice in the bottom of the pan, and the chicken skin should be crispy golden brown.

Transfer the chicken to another dish, cover with foil, and allow it to rest about 15 minutes before carving or eating. I like to transfer my potatoes to another baking dish and continue roasting them until they’re crispy— about 10 more minutes at 425 degrees, but that’s up to you.

To make gravy, transfer the veggies to a food processor along with the strained pan juices. Add ½ teaspoon Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet and blend till smooth. Transfer gravy to a small saucepan and keep warm on stovetop. Gravy will be thick so add a little water if needed. Serve your succulent chicken with fingerling potatoes and gravy.

Chicken

Related Links

Chicken Brine

My First French Kiss and Vintage Villa

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

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