Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Week 28- Chateau Virant- cooking with wine

My summer in Provence continues- with more food and wine than you can imagine possible- and many delectable combinations of the two. Only fair to share with you.

At Christmas, my Provencal Pere Noel gave me a cookery book called 'Chateau Virant- Saveurs Provencales'- recipes using produce (wine, olive oil, mustard, honey, jams etc) from the local vineyard, just outside Salon-de-Provence. I took the book out with me this summer as I wanted  to try out some of the recipes - using the local wine itself.

First, of course, I had to go to the domaine and sample the wine.
Rosy cheeked at the degustation
Climbing at Chateau Virant

Other family members had other plans- as Chateau Virant has rocky outcrops much favoured by climbers. If you want to read more about these escapades - look at

Suitably refreshed, I planned the menu: a courgette salad for entree, pork escalopes with red wine rice for main course and a fruit salad petillant for dessert.

These recipes use the Chateau Virant white wine, red and sparkling in that order. Plus of course olive oil and mustard.

For the starter- dice 4 courgettes and soften them with a clove of garlic in some olive oil. Cover with a glassful of white wine and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. Strain over a bowl and leave to cool. When cold, mix any juices from the bowl with olive oil, mustard and the juice of 1/2 lemon, along with some chopped mint.
Season well and serve- either as part of a mixed hors d'oeuvre- or on it's own with some salad leaves and bread.
Courgette salad

A similar process is used for the red wine rice which accompanies the main course. Allow 60g of rice per person. Soften an onion and some garlic in olive oil and add the rice, stirring util it becomes translucent.
Add a glassful of red wine per person and bring to the boil. As the liquid evaporates, add more water until the rice is tender. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for 10 minutes or so.
Red wine rice
When ready to serve, stir through some grated gruyere cheese.
I served this with pork escalopes- thin slices of pork coated with flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried until golden and cooked through.
An accompaniment for pork escalopes

For dessert, I made a fruit salad with seasonal fruit- melon, raspberries and peach. I added a little mango (or orange) juice. Spoon into champagne flutes. Just before serving, pour over some sparkling wine or champagne. I served it here with watermelon sorbet.
Sparkling fruit salad with watermelon sorbet

You may need to sober up a bit before using up the leftovers- but there are plenty of uses for them.

Courgette and coconut soup
Coeur de boeuf tomatoes at the market
The courgettes can be pureed with some coconut milk for a scrumptious soup; the rice makes a savoury stuffing for the huge coeur de boeuf tomatoes which are in season here; and the fruit goes well in a jug for cocktails.
Stuffed tomatoes with rice and cheese


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