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Posts Tagged ‘Lionel Vatinet’

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Out this month is an extraordinary book for all bread bakers – novice or skilled – A Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet (well, I did help him translate his French-accented English  to the page so I might be a bit biased) who is one of  the world’s proclaimed Master Bakers.  His home is La Farm Bakery in Cary, North Carolina, but he travels the world teaching the art of bread making.  His skill has been condensed into an easily-read and used book and his technique of using an inverted stainless steel bowl to produce breads with a crackling exterior and perfect crumb is genius.  If you have the slightest bit of interest in making great bread, buy this book!!!!  I am using it weekly — and I’ve been baking bread all my life.

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While I was still in a Michel Bras mode I got to thinking about aligot, a potato dish from the Midi-Pyrénnés where his restaurant is located and, I believe, was particularly noteworthy when made by his mother, Mere Bras, when she was cooking.  My memory of aligot had also recently been jogged by another Frenchman, Lionel Vatinet, a great baker who now creates terrific breads at his bakery, La Farm, in Cary, North Carolina.  A few years ago Lionel had made a famous pilgrimage to Compostelle in the Basque region of Spain (a centuries-old route called Camino Santiago de Compostella that has served as a path for religious pilgrims for eons)   and it turns out that aligot was invented by monks using bread in place of the potatoes as cheap, but filling sustenance for pilgrims who stopped to rest along the way.  Since I had some Cantal cheese (a main ingredient) and absolutely beautiful, fresh and juicy garlic, when the summer weather turned unexpectedly cool on Monday I thought I should take all of my thoughts about aligot and turn them into a meal.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of the dish that I’ve gone on about, but here is my version of it:
Boiled a couple of pounds of peeled and quartered Yukon gold potatoes with a whole head of the fresh garlic (it was sweet rather than pungent so used more than I would have used of dried).  When very tender, I drained the mixture well and put it through the ricer.  While still hot, I beat in ¼ pound of sweet French butter and ½ cup of crème fraîche.  I returned the pan to low heat and beat in about 2 cups of grated Cantal cheese.

Seasoned the mix with sea salt and white pepper, made a quick green salad, poured a glass of Sancerre and Eh! Voila, dinner was served.  I didn’t quite get the perfect runny, silky texture I’ve tasted, but it was still more than good.

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