Le Petit Suisse

If you live in the US and shop in supermarkets, usually there are just a few choices of yogurt, ranging from lots of mass-produced store brands to a few upscale organic selections. But visiting the yogurt aisle at the grocery store in France is always an exciting event for me.

The choices just go on and on and on and on and on and on and….

marketyogrtblog.jpg

There’s plain yogurts made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.

There’s reduced-fat.

There’s soy yogurt (à la vache! in this land where cows are sacred…)

There’s names like Fjord and Jockey.

There’s off-beat flavors like fig, kiwi, prune, and wheat (yes, wheat.)

Small fromageries sell dainty glass jars filled with tangy, farm-fresh yogurt. Enormous hypermarches like Auchan boast multiple refrigerated aisles stocked with nothing but yogurt and fromage blanc, a cousin to yogurt (fromage blanc and fromage frais are soft, fresh cheeses, eaten with a spoon.)

When yogurt is sweetened, the labeled usually proclaims avec sucre de canne, with cane sugar, which is highly regarded here as a sweetener, in spite of the many sugar-beets harvested in France. In the US, high-fructose corn syrup is used, which is much cheaper than sugar but has an icky syrup-y aftertaste that I don’t like. If you’ve ever compared a American Coke with a Coke from Mexico or Europe, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ve always been tantalized by le Petit Suisse since stories of French people descending on a San Francisco supplier during their
Open Warehouse
events which are legendary.

Le Petit Suisse is not yogurt, but a very rich little pot of fresh, sweet fromage frais. The first thing you notice is it’s about half the size of the standard (4 oz) French yogurt (left, which is about half the size of a standard American yogurt (8 oz).

2yogurtsblog.jpg

Le Petit Suisse is made from skim milk, cream, and ferments lactiques. It was developed by a Swiss dairy worker, Monsieur Gervais, whose name is still emblazoned across the packaging. He’s credited for developing it over 150 years ago in Normandy, a region justly famous for it’s smooth, creamy, and unctuous cheeses like Camembert de Normandie, Epoisses and Pont L’Evêque.

Being France, naturally there are lots of rules involved if you want to enjoy it properly.

peelinggervaisblog.jpg

Overturn the little pot and squeeze it slightly to release the cylinder. Tip le petit Suisse on its side, then unroll it while peeling off the paper. Then you sprinkle a generous amount of turbinado sugar (called cassonade, or unrefined cane sugar) over the top, or serve it with a spoonful of jam. And dig in. It’s tangy-sweet taste lends itself to being served with a fruit compote as well, although I prefer it as shown. And I like to savor it with a tiny spoon; its richness is best enjoyed in small doses.

finishedblog.jpg

Related Posts

Caillé

French Sugars

Comté

French Cheese Puffs Recipe

Paris Cheese Archives

Learning French…Simplified

Just in case anyone thinks that learning French is difficult, my French workbook offers this simple explanation of how to easily construct a phrase.

French1.jpg

Comment Policy

fruit

Comments are welcome and an important part of my blog, and readers are very welcome and encouraged to leave comments in the blog posts. Questions will be answered in the comments at my discretion and due to the number of comments some posts have, and my other work, I’m unable to answer every comment. And in other cases, I may answer inquiries personally via e-mail and may not publish the comment.

So please use a valid e-mail address when sending in a comment. E-mail addresses are hidden from the public view and will not be used for any other purpose, nor are they shared or published in any way.

If no comment field appears at the end of a published post and comments, that means that the post is closed for comments. And if you have a question, it’s likely been answered in the comments previously and I don’t wish to comment further on it for various reasons.

1. Comments and URLs which link to commercial websites or blogs will immediately be deleted.

The exception is if the link is part of the discussion, ie: If someone asks where they can find a certain item or product, and another reader leaves a comment with a link to where it can be obtained.

2. Please do not leave the name or URL to your website or blog in the body of your comment.

There is a space for that where you enter your name and e-mail address, and it will automatically be linked to your website or blog. URLs that don’t relate to comments will be stripped out.

The exception to that if you are linking to an entry on your blog or website that is relevant to the discussion. Examples include if you’ve attempted a similar recipe or you have a post on your website or blog that adds to the discussion. You are welcome to leave a link, but please format it in HTML, (tutorials here and here), which will make it easier for readers to visit your site.

3. Comments may be edited for grammar, spelling, or content.

4. Comments may be moderated and may not appear on the blog without approval.

5. Comments may be deleted at any time, without notice.

6. If you find a broken link or typographical error, you are welcome to point it out.

But please realize that due to the temporal nature of blogs, those are both bound to happen and if you wish to mention it, tact is appreciated.

7. Diverse points of view are welcome but please keep the conversation civil.

The comments often become forums for discussion amongst readers, which is encouraged, but name-calling or baiting comments will be edited or deleted.

8. One-third of the readers of this blog live outside the United States

Please keep that in mind and readers should be sensitive to cultural differences and values when leaving comments or responding to others.

9. Anything written in ALL CAPS will be deleted.

10. Don’t Be a Douche.

Having worked in restaurant kitchens for over three decades, there isn’t anything that I haven’t seen, or heard. Trust me.

Blog Policies

If you have questions about various policies of the blog, you will likely find the answers at these links:

Disclosure Statement

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Use the Comment Feed

Restaurant Write Up Policy

How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned On the Site



Me and Pam Anderson, Tonight On Fox

One of my favorite actresses, and the first lady of American theater, Pamela Anderson, has a new progam called ‘Stacked’ on Fox television wednesday nights. Starring alongside Pam (who plays a bookstore clerk), and prominently displayed behind her enormous talents, is Ripe For Dessert.

ripe.JPG
Check us out tonight!

Paris Pastry Shops

Patrick Roger Chocolates patrick roger chocolate

Paris has some of the most amazing pastry and chocolate shops in the world!

I’ve written up many of them and you can browse through my archives to find out more about them: Paris Pastry Shops.

A recommended book for visitors is The Pâtisseries of Paris: A Paris Pastry Guide, which lists many favorites, along with addresses and specialties.

sweetlifeinparisbooks.jpg

L’As du Fallafel

A favorite quick-bite on the streets of Paris, at L’As du Fallafel.

falafelblog.jpg

L’As du Fallafel is one of the few places where Parisians chow down on the street. Beginning with a fork, dig into warm pita bread stuffed with marinated crunchy cabbage, silky eggplant, sesame hoummous, and boules of chick-pea paste, crisp-fried fallafel. Spice it up with a dab of searingly-hot sauce piquante.

L’As du Fallafel: 34, rue de Rosiers, in the Marais. Open every day, except closed friday beginning at sundown, reopening for lunch sunday.

Panna cotta recipe

One of the fun things about living in Europe is that there are other people who’ve moved here (like me) who love their local culinary scene (like me.)

A few lucky guests each week follow along (or rather, try to keep up!) with Judy Witts Francini, aka Divina Cucina. A bundle of energy, each morning armed with an empty basket and a head full of menu ideas, she takes the Central Market in Florence by storm. A day begins with espresso at her favorite pastry shop, Antica Pasticceria Sieni (via San Antonio) where you sip espresso served with spicy wedges of panpepato, crisp brutti ma buoni (which means “ugly, but good”), and delicate cream-filled pastries.

panforteblog.jpg

Soon after, you’re exploring the market with Judy. I tasted well-aged balsamic vinegar, found delicate tiny wild strawberries, and sampled aged sheep-milk Pecorino cheeses…which could make even the most devoted, cheese-loving Francophile pack their bags for Tuscany.

After thoughtfully selecting wines for lunch from her local expert at Casa del Vino (via dell’Ariento, 16/r), the sandwich maker fixed me a surprise snack for my train trip that evening. When I unwrapped my sandwich, I found Tuscan bread stuffed with anchovy and olive oil marinated tomatoes, arugola, and creamy burrata cheese from Apulia.

Then we walked back to Judy’s apartment and participated in some hands-on cooking demonstrations.

Judy is a dynamo of knowledge, full of great culinary tips, such as…

1. Don’t listen to music or watch tv while cooking, which distracts you from the food as it crackles, sizzles, and simmers.

2. Used good olive oil.
The best olive oils are pressed from hand-picked olives. Lesser-quality olive oils use olives that fall from the tree, which causes them to bruise and become prone to rancidity. That’s why cheaper olive oils turn bad after a few months while better oils last much longer. And tastes better!

3. Always heat olive oil first in your saute pan before adding meat or vegetables.
This allows food to sear and cook quickly, which augments flavors. An exception is fresh garlic, which should be heated at the same time as the oil, since it’s easy to burn.

4. Techniques are more important than recipes or details.
Even if you’re not a master chef like Judy, use recipes as guidelines for cooking. While a recipe may indicate a cooking time of 20 minutes, you may find it takes more or less time in your kitchen. And you may like more salt. Or your lemons are larger, and sweeter. Learning techniques, rather than just following recipes, will make you cook like an Italian.

5. Almost all true balsamic vinegars are aged for at least 10 years. Anything less is not a real balsamic. The stuff you buy in shops labeled ‘balsamic’ with the consistency of water is not true balsamic and has added colorings and flavorings. Once you taste the real thing, you’re eyes will roll back in your head and you will hallucinate.

I’ve been cooking professionally for over half of my life and I’ve tasted some mighty fine food, but one of the best things I’ve ever had, she made right in front of us: Herb Garlic Rub. It’s something that anyone can make and tastes infinitely better than those stale mixtures one buys in a jar. Judy shucked a few large branches of fresh rosemary leaves. She added the leaves from an enormous bunch of fresh sage, a generous handful of salt, and 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic. Then she chopped and chopped and chopped until very fine, then left the mxiture on the cutting board until dry, which takes a day or two. Once dry, store the mixture in a jar. You can use the Herb Garlic Rub on any meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable. Add a bit to a bowl of good olive oil for dipping bread.

sandwichblog.jpg

Then in an amazing feat of culinary skill, replicating something that intrigued me at the market, Judy split a long loaf of Italian bread lengthwise. She generously poured some good olive oil over the insides (without measuring, folks…), dusted it with Herb Garlic Rub, then tucked a pork tenderloin inside. After wrapping the whole thing in foil, she baked it directly on the oven rack (in a 375 degree oven for about one hour.) As she unwrapped it, the overwhelming aroma of herbs and garlic permeated the air. None of us could be polite any longer, and we begin ripping off hunks of the herb-and-olive-oil infused bread and stuffing them in our mouths.

For dessert Judy whipped up Panna Cotta, one of Italy’s most beloved desserts. Although Judy uses local Tuscan cream, you can substitute whole milk or buttermilk for some of the cream. We tossed tiny wild strawberries and plump raspberries in sugar to macerate, then piled some atop each Panna Cotta and drizzled it with an unrestrained pour of 30 year old syrupy-sweet balsamic vinegar.
Rare, and outrageously expensive, Judy kept advising, “Pour on more! Pour on more! That stuff tastes great!”

judyblog.jpg

Divina Cucina Panna Cotta
6 Servings

4 cups heavy cream (or substitute half-and-half, or use half buttermilk)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packages unflavored gelatin, such as Knox

Soften gelatin over 6 tablespoons cold water.

Heat cream over low heat with the sugar and stir until dissolved. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
Stir in gelatin until melted. Add the vanilla. Pour into glass serving goblets or bowls.

Chill for at least 2 hours. Once firm, top with sweetened berries and aged balsamic vinegar, or lots of shavings of chocolate.

Quick Candied Cherry Recipe

candiedcherriesblog.jpg

The arrival of cherries means the dreariness of winter is definitely over, and I can finally look forward to a long, delicious summer of fresh apricots, raspberries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. Once cherries became reasonable at the market this is a great way to use and preserve them when the price drops and when the season is in full swing, or nearing the end, I find myself using fresh cherries as fast as I can pit ‘em.

Although you might think it’s funny to candy fresh something fresh, there are times perhaps your cherries aren’t super-flavorful (like too early or too late in the season) and candying augments and intensifies flavor. And as a bonus, you’ll end up with a lovely brilliant-red syrup which you can mix with Champagne for a fizzy and festive kir Royale. Once candied, these cherries will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Spoon them over vanilla ice cream, stir them into yogurt, and toss them with nectarines or peaches for a summer cobbler.

Quick Candied Cherries

  • 1 pound (450 g) fresh sweet or sour cherries, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Remove the stems and pit the cherries (I use a handheld cherry pitter.)

In a large non-reactive saucepan (at least 4 quarts/liters) bring the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil.

Reduce the heat so the cherries are cooking at a low rolling boil. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure the cherries are cooking evenly and not sticking.

Once the syrup is mostly reduced and a brilliant ruby-color, similar to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat and cool the cherries to room temperature.

After the cherries are cool, they can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen in zip-top freezer bags for up to one year.



Recommended Cherry Pitters

OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter: Like all Oxo products, this one gets high marks from users.

Leifheit Cherry Pitter: All-metal cherry pitter, popular in Europe.

Leifheit Pro-Line Cherry Pitter: (I love that name!) This is a terrific tool if you have a lot of cherries to pit. Keeps the cherries in a container, so it’s less-messy to use than others.

Related Recipes

White Chocolate and Cherry Scones

No-Recipe Cherry Jam

Pickled Sour Cherries

Easy Jam Tart

Peach Leaf Wine

Quick Mincemeat Recipe

Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb

Upside Down Cake

Almond Cake

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream