France: Cooking, Eating and Drinking in Aquitaine

COOKDORDOGNE – Stock Making Recipe – Video

Stock making forms the basis of all great sauces and will elevate your cooking to restaurant standard. In this video, Ian takes you through the process of making your own chicken stock. Check out this stock making recipe and start cooking like a pro.



COOKDORDOGNE Market Tour to St Cyprien Market

For the Sunday cookery course we head to the wonderful St Cyprien market.


Situated on the hillside above the beautiful Dordogne River, St Cyprien (4.5km from Le Chevrefeuille) dates back to 620AD – when a clever hermit called St Cyprien took residence in a cave overlooking the valley. As he whiled away his time ogling the remarkable view, he likely imagined the future of this bustling, bright little village, earmarking in his imagination that on Sundays St Cyprien would hold one of the brightest, most colourful and fresh farmers markets in all of the Dordogne.

And, wow! How right he was!

The St Cyprien market is one of colour, fun and produce galore. We kick off our cookery course market tour by descending into the ancient heart of this pretty village, which beats with all the jolly colours, scents, tastes and sounds one expects from a traditional Perigordian farmers market.

Stalls burst with local duck and goose products. Olives – black, green, stuffed and pitted glisten – even on the rare days when the golden Dordogne sun isn’t shining. Walnuts bulge in over-stuffed sacks and there’s fish so fresh they appear to flip and flop before your eyes. There’s an assemblage of goat’s cheese that would have even the most savant, cheese-loving mouse hard pressed to choose just one, and if that’s not enough tasty-weight to add to your basket, there’s oils, honey, spices, fruit, vegetables, and – of course – bread.

In summer the sweet scent of strawberries grabs you by the nose and pulls you deeper into this belly-pleasing-taste-bud teasing market. In spring white asparagus, morels and tender young fruits will have you wishing you’d brought a bigger basket, and in autumn fruit and veg pop with colours, textures and tastes remarkably different to those of summer and spring. Autumnal walnuts and chestnuts plump before your eyes, courgettes, pumpkins and squash beg to be baked or “soup-ed”, apples whisper sweet-pie-and-tart nothings as you pass, and mandarins, with their radiant-orange peel, beg to be stripped and eaten.

If you’re lucky to hit the season after the rains of autumn when the trees blaze orange and yellow before succumbing to the nudity of winter, and the sun shines almost every other day, then keep your eyes open at market for the truffles, wild cepes and girolles this area is famous for. They’re precious, a little on the pricey side, odd-shaped, much-sought-after, delicious little fun-ghi!

With Ian as guide we meander the market, ogling the vast array of produce picked and transported fresh that morning. Ian has nurtured great friendships with the market farmers, which gives cookery-school participants the rare opportunity to hear how they work to cultivate their top quality fare. It also means delicious tasters of this unique, wonderful, lovingly nurtured produce before we head back to the CookDordogne kitchen at Le Chevrefeuille to cook up the perfect, Perigordian feast!

The market at St Cyprien is held every Sunday.

COOKDORDOGNE Cookery Courses & Tours run all year round.

CookDordogne Tapenade Recipe


Preparation time: 10mins

Cooking time: None


Ingredients (serves 4)

250g pitted green olives
100g Freshly ground almonds
40g  capers, rinsed or drained
10 anchovy fillets, rinsed or drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
50 ml olive oil


  1. Put the olives and the ground almonds into a food processor and cut and chop them into a fine paste.
  2. Stop the machine and add the capers, anchovy fillets and garlic. Start the machine and chop and blend these into the olive mixture until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Mix the olive oil, then season with pepper to taste
  4. Pour the finish tapenade into a preserving jar. Pour a little more olive oil over the top and store in the fridge until required.

Chestnut velouté (Velouté aux Chataignes)


Preparation time: 10mins
Cooking time: 30mins

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 400g vac-packed chestnuts
  • 1–1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150–200ml single cream

In a saucepan, melt the butter and fry the onion, garlic and celery till soft but not colored.

  1. Add the potato, all but 4 of the chestnuts, stock and bay, with salt and pepper to taste. Boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Once the potato is soft, remove the bay leaf and blitz with a hand blender till smooth. Stir in the cream and check the seasoning.

Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil

Ingredients (serves 8)

1 kg fresh cauliflower
150g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 sprig fresh tyme
1 bay leaf
800 ml milk
800ml chicken stock
Salt & pepper
75ml truffle oil

  1. Trim, wash and break the cauliflower up into pieces or small florets. In a large, lidded saucepan, melt the butter and add the cauliflower pieces, stirring them to coat with the melted butter. Cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf to the cauliflower. Stir, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. In another pan, heat the milk and chicken stock together. As soon as they have come to the boil, pour them over the cauliflower. Turn up the heat and cook the soup on a rapid simmer for half an hour or until the cauliflower is soft.
  4. Check the seasoning of the soup, adding salt and pepper to taste. Take the pan off the stove, pour the soup into the liquidiser and blend until smooth.
  5. When smooth, pour the soup back into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the truffle oil. Whisk the soup with a hand blender until it froths. Ladle it into lightly warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.


Spring has sprung at Le Chèvrefeuille

As winter shakes of its chilly coat, the meadows, lakes, rivers and trees around Le Chèvrefeuille make way for the fresh, new, delectable, light flavours of spring.

Traditionally in the French kitchen, the arrival of spring is marked by a shift from the heavy, rich flavours of winter to lighter, simpler foods, which better suit the warmer weather and energetic lifestyle of spring.

Le chevrefeuille fresh ingredients

Some of the special spring treats local to the Perigord Noir are fresh trout from the Dordogne River, which we are lucky enough to receive every other week from a local fisherman, and our local farmers markets start to fill with spring treats: sweet new peas, broad beans, asparagus – both green and white, wild garlic and green dandelion leaves.

Chef Ian took some time out from the kitchen to tell us what he loves most about cooking in spring.


Q. What’s your favourite dish to cook in spring and why?

A. My favourite spring dish would have to be green and white asparagus cooked lightly in salted water, topped with hollandaise sauce and a fresh, free range, organic poached egg from our very own Le Chevrefeuille chickens – simply lush!

Q. What is your favourite spring food?

A. I’d have to say asparagus. White asparagus is a specialty of this region, grown in Carsac-Aillac, about half an hour east from Le Chevrefeuille. In spring the markets are stocked with beautiful, tender stalks of white asparagus. There’s green asparagus too, of course, but the white is very local to here and not so easy to find in other countries, so I tend to focus on it more.

All asparagus grown in the Perigord Noir is harvested by hand and we offer translator-led visits to the local asparagus farm (during the season) for guests at Le Chevrefeuille and participants of our one-day cooking courses.

Q. What are you seeing a lot of at the markets now it’s spring?

A. The markets are really coming to life with new peas, broad beans, asparagus – both white and green, dandelion leaves and buds and wild garlic. Winter has definitely left because it’s all starting to happen in terms of fresh, new spring produce! It’s very exciting and inspiring for me as a chef!

Q. What plans do you have for the CookDordogne menu this year?

A. We always stick to what’s fresh, local and in season for our menu at CookDordogne.

When the figs on our tree ripen, we’ll be doing confit de canard with fig sauce, and later in the year when chestnut season arrives, we’ll be preparing a delectable chestnut veloute. Of course, desserts are always in season in France, and we’ll be serving up everybody’s favourites: cream brûlée and fondant au chocolat… to name just two.

Q. What do you love most about cooking for others?

A. I love the joy a good meal gives people!

Autumn has arrived at Le Chevrefeuille – Walnut Banana Bread

Autumn has arrived at Le Chevrefeuille and we are in love with the stunning, earthy, colourful edibles that flourish at this time of year.

One of our all-time autumnal favourites is walnuts and – wow! Are they bursting right now! We’ve been using our very own beautiful walnuts – picked from the lovely old walnut trees that reign the grassy meadow between the B&B and the swimming pool – to make a plethora of delicious autumnal dishes.

Here’s one of our favourite walnut recipes. We hope you enjoy it as much we have been… NB, it’s hard to resist, so take care not to eat the whole lot in one sitting!

Le Chevrefeuille Walnut Banana Bread

Try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Walnut Banana Bread


3 bananas, mashed
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
¼ coconut oil or palm shortening
2 cups of walnuts
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Place walnuts in blender & crush to a smooth flour
  2. Place bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey & coconut oil in a food processor
  3. Pulse ingredients together
  4. Pulse in walnut flour, salt & baking soda
  5. Scoop batter into greased bread tin (7.5inch x 3.5inch works well)
  6. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 40mins or until knife inserted near centre comes out clean
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool

Serves 12… Or 1 – if you eat it like I do!

Bon appétit!

Truffle Farm Visit in the Perigord Noir

Why not head for la Truffiere de Péchalifour to meet up with Monsieur Aynaud at his truffle farm, only a few miles from St Cyprien? Edouard Aynaud is the leading authority on truffles in the region, supplying most of the five star restaurants of the area. Péchalifour, is just a tiny cluster of houses; the stone buildings are steeped with old-world bucolic charm and in the midst of the beautiful Périgord countryside, which is a picturesque sight in any weather.


Farah, the truffling hunt dog, hard at work!

After a very animated, passionate and informative introduction to the history and science of truffle cultivation, Edouard, owner and expert truffle guide, will set out with the expectant truffle hunters directing his enthusiastic truffle hunting dogs; Farah a busy border collie and Titeuf the semi-retired golden Labrador.

The aim of the visits is simple: any visitor should be able at the end of the visit to find a truffle in its natural environment!

Farah following her instructions impeccably (“cherche Farah, cherche; elle est où?”), will sniff out the truffles with 100% accuracy, her olfactory radar system finely tuned to the aromatic black balls of fungus. (The truffle is actually the fruiting body of a fungus in the Ascomycetes family that grows by wrapping its spreading fibres onto the root system of oak and nut trees benefiting both the tree and the fungus.)

Farah is fully tuned in to the pay-for-performance system in operation, and sits close by her master as soon as she’s done her job to wait for her little treat. Occasionally she tries to help with a bit more digging if the human truffle hunter is not proving as adept at recovery as Farah would like. She’s recalled to sit with a reminder that “he will find it” and once the truffle is carefully dug up with the special digging tool or bare hands she gets her reward. After a thoroughly entertaining hour of sniffing and digging there was a good haul of walnut sized truffles in the basket. These truffles are the black Périgord variety. Amongst the multitude of interesting facts and figures about truffles, Edouard will also inform you how to store your truffles and serve them.

To complete this interesting and informative visit why not stay at the neighbouring Guesthouse, Le Chevrefeuille in Pechboutier, who run one day cookery courses and whose resident chef would be on hand to advise you on recipes and ideas for this regional delicacy. Truffles can be found on the local market like Le Bugue and Sarlat.

You can take part in a one hour visit in the summer or alternatively, a longer 2 hour visit (by appointment) the rest of the year. Edouard and Carole also offer tasting meals alongside the truffle farm visit. Check their truffle farm website for full details and tariffs.


COOKDORDOGNE Market Tour to Le Bugue

Somewhere in the Perigord Noir, every morning of the week, in every kind of weather, small farmers and market gardeners get up before dawn to drive their camionnettes to a village or town. They manoeuvre into narrow streets and squares, set up simple trestle tables, and unload boxes of fruit and vegetables harvested only hours before at the peak of ripeness.

market-fresh-produce-800-300x225On good days , and most days are good, the Dordogne sun transforms ripe peppers to fire, honey to melted gold, and olives into baroque jewels.
Egg plants, tomatoes, and cherries glisten, melons send messages to your nose and everything asks to be tasted.

There are many other things to see and buy but most come here for the food. Vegetables, fish, eggs , truffles, asparagus and poultry, especially its world famous duck, salad greens and the cheeses, what a feast! They’re made from the milk of cows, goats and sheep. Some are hard, some soft.
There are ranks and files of fresh white goats cheeses some powered with ash or wrapped in chestnut leaves. Each is displayed like a precious objects in a museum case.

The market visit offered by Le Chevrefeuille as part of the cookery course is a fantastic part of the overall experience. We offer this market visit also to others who’s interested in knowing a little more about the local produce and how to use these ingredients effectively but do not wish to participate in the kitchen after.

We arrive at Le Bugue market by 9h30 before the market gets too busy, to trawl the stalls on offer and to chat to the local stall holders and artisans.

Whilst at Le Bugue market, Ian will show you what to look for, especially the diverse range of duck produces such as foie gras in its various guises, confit de canard, truffles and wonderful magret.

french-baguettes-at-market-800-300x225Ian will share with you his ideas about cooking at home and eating out and invoke something of daily life in this part of south west France. We will provide you with ideas using regional food in ways you can recreate in your own homes with local supplies.

Le Bugue market has existed for centuries but the cornucopia that is the open market today was not always so bountiful. War, drought and poverty was the defining aspect of life in the Dordogne for generations.

The love of good eating is central to french culture. compared to the modern world of fast food and supermarket sameness, the outdoor markets are an expression of a different style of living. They hew to traditional values of quality, freshness and presentation, operating in ways that have not changed materially for centuries. in an important sense, the open markets stand for continuity against the tumult of change in contemporary life.

There are no secrets to shopping in the markets. It helps to speak some french but we have learned most of what we know by keeping our eyes open. When we buy vegetables we look for the word pays, which means local. On the small chalk boards or bits of cardboard stuck in the corners of the boxes. otherwise, the vegetables are marked with the region or country of origin.

market-fresh-fruit-and-veg-300x225The supermarket has invaded France not only the big towns but villages too. People patronise it because they can save money and find items the weekly market dont carry. But in the end nothing replaces the open market, the vitality and enthusiasm of buyers and sellers, and the pleasure of doing business in this uncomplicated way. Nowhere else is the food so genuinely fresh from the earth and the hand that harvested it. Nowhere else does the wide blue sky, the warm sun and gentle breeze attend the act of marketing, not shopping but marketing, raising it from a humble necessity to a high art.