I love cooking, and therefore I am always on the look-out for new recipes to try. Recently, I even attended a cooking class with the knowledgeable Petra Carter from Le Pistou Cooking School in Uzès. In a morning, she taught my fellow cooks and me how to prepare several typical Provençal dishes using sunkissed ingredients. These super versatile small dishes are perfect for hosting a French ‘apéritif dinatoire’ at home!
Le Pistou Cooking School resides in a historical, 17th-century house in the middle of charming Uzès, including a beautiful vaulted ceiling. Petra cheerfully welcomed us at 09h30 and after putting on our aprons, we were ready to attack the recipes. There was a lot of work to do, as we had to prepare eight dishes in 3.5 hours! Petra is a wonderful teacher though, so she guided us through the recipes without any stress. When following a class at Le Pistou Cooking School, you can be sure to learn a lot, with a pinch of humour and lots of laughter.
While we started our class by tasting some lovely, locally made fougasse, Petra explained and demonstrated several techniques, ingredients and herbs. She perfectly understands that you can’t cook with a growling stomach! Without realising it, we had already prepared the first dish to put in the oven: a puff pastry sun tart called a ‘Tarte Soleil’. Soon enough, the kitchen started to smell heavenly. Meanwhile, we continued to prepare fresh figs by filling them with goat’s cheese and wrapping them in cured ham. Next, it was time to roast the stuffed red peppers and Provençal tomatoes.
After a little break, with delicious homemade fresh cheese in two different flavours and a glass of bubbles, Petra showed us how to marinate goat’s cheese in olive oil, with added herbs and garlic. It made a perfect gift for loved ones, beautifully presented in a glass jar! We then continued with Fisherman’s Mussels or ‘Moules Pesquieres’, including a colourful salsa. To be followed by filo pastry roses filled with a mix of sweet alcoholic pear goodness. Petra showed us how to roll the roses, after which everybody had to take turns to ruffle the filo pastry.
© Petra Carter
All of the dishes were so simple to make but looked very impressive once prepared and cooked. It was a feast for our eyes (and noses), and we could hardly wait for our lunch to get started! Petra presented the dishes as a buffet and everybody walked past to grab a bite of everything. Together with a lovely wine from around the corner and good company, we savoured our meal. With a full stomach, a head full of new recipes and bubbling with inspiration, I returned home very happy. And I have already planned my first apéritif dinatoire, showing off these new recipes!
© Petra Carter