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Published July 6th, 2011
Cuisiner Dans Le Jardin (Cooking in the Garden)
By Susie Iventosch
Philippe Chevalier Photo Eugenie Hurld

If you love to cook and enjoy a beautiful garden setting, then perhaps you'd find pleasure cooking your meal right in the garden! Chef Philippe Chevalier is hosting a series of cooking class demonstrations this summer. What makes them so special is not only the food, but the fact they are held in the beautiful garden outside his Lafayette restaurant!
Every other Saturday, cooking enthusiasts gather amongst the roses and geraniums to prepare, and devour, a menu designed to incorporate locally grown, seasonal produce. Wine pairings are available for those wishing to sample French wines to accompany the various courses.
"People had been asking me to offer cooking classes," Chevalier said. "I think it helps to take their minds off the economy and helps them to focus on something pleasant, like learning to cook special meals at home. I love that."
Students dine family style in the garden, which also gives them an opportunity to meet new people.
"In France we have a saying, 'adorer la vie', meaning to take the time to cook and enjoy a nicely prepared dinner with family and friends at home," Chevalier mentioned.
Obbe Knoop, who attended the first class on June 11, said it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. "We dine at Chevalier a lot. I'm European and moved here from Holland 10 years ago. Chef Philippe's food is very authentic French-upscale food, great taste, beautiful presentation and the atmosphere is awesome, too."
So, when Knoop received an email about the cooking class in the garden, he didn't hesitate.
According to Knoop, Chef Chevalier served foisgras right off the top to settle any hunger pangs, and then started explaining all about the ingredients he was using and demonstrated exactly how to make the dishes. He offered tips and welcomed questions about what he was doing, too.
"The weather was gorgeous," Knoop pointed out. "And, it was a beautiful day in the garden, with wonderful food and wine. We all sat family style, so my wife Shannon McDaniel, our friend Lesli Nordgren and I enjoyed the afternoon dining and learning with brand new acquaintances, which was all part of the fun."
Upcoming class menus are listed on the website, but folks are also welcome to phone the restaurant directly. The July 9 class will feature Wild King Salmon Tartare with baguette and chive whipped cream, Rack of Veal with roasted potatoes and fresh herbs, and Fresh Black Mission Fig Salad.
On July 14, in honor of Bastille Day, Chevalier will roast a whole pig on the spit out in the garden. This special will be in addition to the regular menu.
In case you don't own an egg poacher (like me), Chef Chevalier has a tip for poaching eggs in a pot of water. You simply add approximately 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to 2 cups of water and crack the eggs, one at a time, into the boiling mixture. The vinegar helps to coagulate the egg white. Once, cooked, extract the poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon. It worked for me!
"CuisinerDans Le Jardin" classes are every other Saturday from 11:30 a.m.to 1:00 p.m., and include lunch.
The cost per student is $45 for the demonstration and lunch, and $18 for the wine assortment to pair with each of the three courses. Wine is optional.

For class or dinner reservations please call or visit:
Chevalier Restaurant
960 Moraga Road
Lafayette, CA 94549-4480
(925) 385-0793
Brochette de Crevettes avec Saladeet Fenouille
(Shrimp skewers with salad and fennel)
Photos Susie Iventosch

(For 2 People)
4 branches fresh rosemary
4 jumbo shrimp, uncooked
1/4 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
Mixed baby greens
1 Meyer lemon (juice of)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare salad plates with mixed greens topped with sliced fennel. Mix dressing
in a separate container. Peel and devein shrimp. Skewer each shrimp onto a
rosemary spear. Brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Grill or pan-sear over medium high heat until just cooked. Serve shrimp over greens
and drizzle dressing over all.
Risotto au Parmesan avec Petits Legumes de Saison et Oeuf Poché

(Parmesan Risotto with steamed seasonal vegetables and poached egg)
1/2 cup Arborio rice
21/2 cups white veal stock
2 eggs
3 tablespoons white vinegar (for poaching eggs)
Salt and pepper to taste
Baby carrots
Baby turnips
Baby fennel
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese (plus a little extra for garnish)
Fresh chervil or chives, snipped for garnish
Prepare risotto by sautéing rice in a little bit of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add stock one half cup at a time, stirring often,
until all stock is used and rice is al dente. Season with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan.
Meanwhile, steam veggies and poach eggs until yolk is still soft, but whites are cooked.
Spoon risotto on plates and top with veggies and poached egg. Sprinkle with extra grated Parmesan and snipped chives or chervil as garnish.
NOTE *I added two finely chopped shallots to the risotto when sautéing it in the pan.
Pêche Jaune Caramelizéet Noisette Grillées

(Caramelized yellow peach with toasted hazelnuts)
2 yellow peaches
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 ounce toasted hazelnuts, broken into pieces
1 cup whipped cream (whip with 1 ounce of powdered sugar below)
1 ounce powdered sugar
2 mint leaves for garnish
Blanch peaches in pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, just to loosen skins. Cool, peel and cut into quarters, working around the pit. Discard pit and set aside peach quarters. In a medium sauté pan, melt butter. Add peaches, sugar and scrapings from vanilla bean. Cook over medium-high heat just until peaches and sugar begin to caramelize. Cool and reserve any pan juices to drizzle over peaches and cream.
To serve, spoon peaches onto plate, garnish with whipped cream, hazelnuts and mint leaves.

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