Give a gift of lettuce seeds and you give a gift of fresh salad, home-grown and brought to the table every day. Our French heirloom lettuce seeds, each with its place in history, were varieties grown in the market gardens around Paris for over a hundred years. Add a jar of La Vie Rustic Sel de Citrus (Agrume) to season the vinaigrette for the salads.
Give the gift of French red poppies, seeds to grow a swath across a side yard, an entry way, or a garden.
Give the gift of a fragrant soup, replete with sweet fresh bay leaves, Winter Savory Sea Salt (Sel de Sarriette), Herbes de Provence and Rancho Gordo giant white Royal Corona Beans.La Vie Rustic White Bean and Winter Savory Soup Set
For the cookbook lover and dreamer on your gift list, give the gift of a memoir with recipes,
My Culinary Journey – food and fetes of Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan. Stories, photos, and recipes, and comes accompanied by a jar of La Vie Rustic Herbes de Provence.
French Shepherd’s Pie with Celery Root and Potato Topping
Shepherd’s pie, a traditional British dish, is made with meat–usually ground beef or lamb–and vegetables, covered with a thick layer of mashed potatoes and then lightly browned in the oven to make a crust. In this version, the topping is a combination of mashed potatoes and pungent celery root.
Celery root has a somewhat intimidating appearance. It is not at all obvious to the uninitiated how it is used in the kitchen. When I was a student in Aix-in-Provence, before Donald and I were married there, my French roommate taught me that once the whorled and callused skin of the celery root was removed, the flesh could be cooked or eaten raw in any number of different ways. An inexpensive winter root, its strong flavor and interesting texture made it frequent fare in our kitchen and also in the inexpensive restaurants we frequented.
2 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 ½ to 2 pounds ground lamb or beef
3 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock
4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 medium-sized or 1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown slightly on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and saut until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add the bay leaves, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of the salt, pepper, and flour, and continue to cook, stirring constantly. The flour will start to brown on the bottom of the pan, but don’t let it burn. Let it become very dark brown, as it is the browning of the flower that will eventually give the stew its rich, dark color. This will take 6 to 8 minutes. Stirring the meat and scraping the pan bottom, add the stock, a little at a time, until all the bits of browned flour are freed from the pan bottom and mixed into the liquid. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer until the flavors are blended and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.
While the lamb or beef is cooking, boil the potatoes and celery root in water to cover until tender, about 30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and celery root, reserving ¼ cup of their cooking water, and place them in a bowl. Add the reserved cooking water, the milk, 2 tablespoons of the butter, egg, the remaining ½ teaspoon each salt, pepper, and the thyme. Whisk all the ingredients until well blended and fairly smooth. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. To assemble the pie, put the stew in an ovenproof casserole and spoon the potato mixture evenly over the top to cover completely. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into bits and dot the topping with the bits.
Place the casserole in the preheated over until the topping is slightly browned and the stew is bubbling,15 to 20 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6
From ‘My Culinary Journey’ by Georgeanne Brennan