Tips from the Arizonan mother-daughter team behind Burgundy’s Cook’s Atelier culinary school
How an Arizonan mother and daughter relocated to Burgundy to open, of all things, a French cookery school. By Amy Bryant. Photographs by Anson Smart
‘WE STILL PINCH ourselves,’ admits Marjorie Taylor as she describes the cookery school and cookware and wine shop she runs with her daughter, Kendall Smith Franchini. They remain incredulous, even nine years after first opening in the pretty Burgundian town of Beaune, because The Cook’s Atelier is their dream – and they are living it more than 5,500 miles from their home town of Phoenix, Arizona. Both are passionate Francophiles: Smith Franchini ever since French lessons at school, which led her to study and then work in Paris; Taylor thanks to culinary inspiration from Julia Child, Alice Waters and Madeleine Kamman.
How, then, did the locals of Beaune react to a pair of Americans instructing students how to perfect a consommé or hollandaise on their own doorstep? Taylor chuckles. ‘They would see us flying through the market with 10 people in tow, and at first had no idea what was going on.’ Ever since their inception, classes at The Cook’s Atelier have included a guided tour of the market – and Beaune’s producers of biodynamic vegetables, wood-fired sourdough boules and premier cru pinot noir soon came to appreciate these visits.
Many growers, farmers and fromage makers are celebrated in the pair’s first cookbook, from which the following recipes come. It delivers their favourite dishes – as well as an armoury of French techniques, from basic butchery to the intricacies of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry).
Baby-leek galettes with goat’s cheese and wild garlic
You can also make this as one large galette and serve it alongside a leafy green salad. Search your farmers’ market for wild-garlic leaves or fresh ramp leaves. If you can’t find any, garlic chives are a good alternative.
For the shortcrust pastry (pâte brisée)
— 190g plain flour, plus more for dusting
— ½ tsp fleur de sel (French sea salt)
— 170g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
— 30ml iced water, strained
— ½ tsp distilled white vinegar
For the filling
— 12-14 baby leeks, white and light-green parts only
— 3 tbsp unsalted butter
— leaves from 6 thyme sprigs — 120ml dry white wine
— 120ml crème fraîche
— 1 large egg, beaten, plus one large egg yolk
— 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
— 115g crumbled fresh goat’s cheese
— handful of wild-garlic leaves or ramp leaves, coarsely chopped
— 3 tbsp double cream
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and fleur de sel. Add the butter. Using your hands, gently toss to coat the butter in the flour mixture. Scoop the mixture in your hands and gently press the flour and butter between your fingertips until the mixture looks grainy, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Work quickly to ensure the butter stays cold.
In a small bowl, whisk together the iced water and vinegar. Drizzle over the dough and use a fork to gently toss until incorporated. Continue working the dough, gently squeezing it between your fingertips until it comes together and there is no dry flour visible. Be careful not to overwork it. It’s ready as soon as you can squish the dough in one hand and it stays together.
Shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.the pastry can be wrapped in a double layer of cling film and refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to two months.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Halve each leek lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Rinse the leeks in a large bowl of cold water, swishing to remove any sand. Using your hands, transfer them to a colander to drain, leaving the sand in the bottom of the bowl.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, thyme and 120ml water and sauté until the leeks are tender – 10-12 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the liquid has reduced – 10-15 minutes more. Add the crème fraîche and stir to coat the leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Add the beaten whole egg and parsley and stir to incorporate. Set aside.
Divide the pastry into six equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll each piece into a round about 15cm in diameter and 6mm thick. Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Arrange the rounds on the lined baking sheet. Divide the leek mixture among the galettes, spreading it in the centre and leaving a 4cm border. Sprinkle with the goat’s cheese and wildgarlic or ramp leaves.
Gently fold the border over the leek mixture, overlapping it as you go.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the egg wash over the dough. Bake until the pastry is golden and the cheese is just starting to brown – 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
White asparagus with hollandaise and chervil
For the asparagus
— 680g white asparagus
— 1 tbsp unsalted butter
— small handful of fresh chervil leaves, to garnish
For the hollandaise
— 225g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus 55g, cold and cut into small pieces — 3 large egg yolks
— 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice — pinch of piment d’espelette (Espelette chilli powder – optional)
Peel the asparagus, then use your hands to snap off the tough ends. Using a paring knife, cut the bottoms on an angle, making a clean edge.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice and water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and blanch until tender – 6-10 minutes, depending on the size. The asparagus is done when you can put the tip of a paring knife into a spear and it’s tender throughout. Immediately plunge the asparagus into the ice water to stop it cooking. Once the asparagus is cool, set the spears on a clean kitchen towel to drain.
Meanwhile, to make the clarified butter for the hollandaise, melt 225g of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and let it stand for three to four minutes to settle. Using a small spoon, remove the white foam from the surface. Gently pour off the clear, yellow butter into a glass jar, leaving the white solids in the bottom of the pan. If not using immediately, let the yellow clarified butter cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge; it will keep for at least one month.
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the egg yolks with three tablespoons of water and whisk until light in colour and foamy. Add half the cold butter, place the saucepan over a low heat, and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens, for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the remaining cold butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the warm clarified butter in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously, until the sauce is velvety. Be careful not to add the butter too quickly or the sauce will separate.
Add the lemon juice and whisk to incorporate, then season with salt and white pepper and sprinkle with the piment d’espelette, if using. Hollandaise can be kept warm for a few minutes by placing it
over a pot of hot water. If it looks as though it’s getting too hot, remove it from the heat and whisk in a tablespoon of cold butter.
Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, melt the butter for the asparagus over a medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until the spears are warmed through and the butter is nutty brown – about five minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Place the asparagus on warm plates, drizzle with the warm hollandaise, and garnish with the chervil.
Roasted leg of lamb with broad beans, rosemary, sage and lemon
For the lamb
— 1 x 2.7kg whole bone-in leg of lamb
— 10 rosemary sprigs, plus more to garnish
— fleur de sel
— extra-virgin olive oil, preferably French
— 1 tbsp unsalted butter
— 8 garlic cloves, smashed — 1 lemon, thinly sliced, to serve
— small handful of fresh sage, to serve
For the broad beans
— 2.7kg broad beans, shelled
(pre-prepared weight) — fruity extra-virgin olive oil, preferably French
Remove the leg of lamb from the refrigerator and let it reach room temperature before roasting. Remove the papery membrane covering the leg of lamb (if there is any), plus any thick sections of fat. Be sure to leave a thin layer of the fat, so the lamb doesn’t dry out while roasting. Pat the lamb dry.
Preheat the oven to 200C/ gas mark 6.
Using kitchen twine, tie the leg of lamb, looping it around the meat, to secure it for even roasting. Place the sprigs of rosemary under the twine. Season with the fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper.
In a large roasting pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over a medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the lamb and sear, turning, until browned and caramelised on all sides – 6-8 minutes. Add the butter and garlic and, as soon as the butter melts, use a spoon to baste the lamb for a few minutes.
Place the pan in the oven and roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reaches 55C for medium-rare – about one hour. The internal temperature will rise to 63C upon standing. Let the leg of lamb rest on a warm cutting board for about 20 minutes before carving.
For the beans, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and fill a bowl with ice and water. Add the beans to the boiling water and blanch until just tender – 3-5 minutes. Then immediately plunge them into the iced water to stop the cooking and preserve their colour. Once the broad beans are cool enough to handle, remove them, then pop off their pale-green skins to release the bright-green beans. Discard the skins.
Place the beans in a large bowl, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the lamb whole on a large platter surrounded by the broad beans, lemon slices and sage. Garnish with rosemary. Continued on page 64
‘Our business has evolved organically; we simply wanted to create a place people would enjoy coming to,’ says Taylor, who, after running a restaurant and cookery school in Phoenix, packed everything in to move to France in 2008. ‘Kendall and I have always been close. I knew she belonged here, so I took a leap of faith and jumped.’
Now, they host visitors from all over the world, teaching, cooking, holding wine tastings and starting long lunches with champagne and charcuterie. Smith Franchini’s French husband, Laurent, has become part of their story as the shop’s manager, as have the couple’s children, Luc, seven, and Manon, five. And at the end of the day’s classes? ‘We often have a nice glass of wine together before clearing up,’ says Kendall. ‘But you’re more likely to find us staying on late with our guests.’ They, too, ‘have become part of the family’. The Cook’s Atelier by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini (Abrams, £35) is available for £30 with free p&p from Telegraph Bookshop (0844-871 1514; books.telegraph.co.uk)
‘I knew Kendall belonged here, so I took a leap of faith and jumped’
Rustic apricot tart
Makes one 23cm tart or three 10cm tartlets
At the market in Beaune, we have the most beautiful rosecoloured Bergeron apricots in the late spring and early summer. If you can’t find the Bergeron variety, feel free to use any type of small apricot. Be sure to work quickly after adding the sugar and lemon mixture to the fruit, so it doesn’t lose too much of its juice.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry (pâte sucrée)
— 190g plain flour, plus more for dusting
— 50g sugar
— ¼ tsp fleur de sel
— 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
— 1 large egg yolk
— 40ml double cream
For the filling
— 1 large egg yolk
— 3 tbsp double cream
— 100g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
— seeds of ½ vanilla pod
— ¼ tsp fleur de sel
— 910g Bergeron apricots — icing sugar, for dusting
— crème fraîche or whipped cream, to serve
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and fleur de sel. Add the butter. Using your hands, gently toss to coat the butter in the flour mixture. Scoop the mixture in your hands and gently press the flour mixture and butter between your fingertips until the mixture looks grainy, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Work quickly to ensure the butter stays cold.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and cream. Drizzle over the dough and use a fork to gently toss until incorporated. Continue working the dough, squeezing it between your fingertips until it comes together and there is no dry flour visible. Be careful not to overwork it. It’s ready as soon as you can squish the dough in one hand and it stays together.
Shape into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. The pastry can be wrapped in a double layer of cling film and refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to two months.
Remove from the fridge 10-15 minutes before rolling to ensure it is slightly soft and ready to roll. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and lightly flour a rolling pin. Begin rolling the dough, turning it as you roll to make an even circle. Roll into a 6mm-thick, 28cmdiameter round.
Gently roll it around the rolling pin, brushing off any excess flour with a pastry brush as you go. Unroll it over a 23cm tart tin, being careful not to stretch it as you ease it into the bottom and up the sides. Begin trimming the edges by pushing up your thumb against the edges of the tin. Peel away the extra dough. Be careful to make the dough the same thickness all the way around to create a uniform edge. Freeze for 15-20 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas mark 5.
Place the tart case on a baking sheet. Cut a circle of parchment paper slightly larger than the tart, place it on the dough and fill with baking beans or dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are set and beginning to turn golden. Remove the paper and beans. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Lightly brush the egg wash over the dough. Return the tart to the oven and bake just until the egg wash is set – about five minutes.
Raise the oven temperature to 200C/gas mark 6.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla seeds and fleur de sel. Set aside.
Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones. If the apricots are small, cut them into quarters; if they’re large, cut them into eighths. Place the apricots in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sugar mixture and gently toss until evenly coated.
Working quickly, arrange the apricot slices, tightly overlapping, on the bottom of the tart shell, forming a compact circle. The apricots will shrink as they cook, so try to fit as much fruit in the tart shell as possible. Scrape any remaining sugar mixture left in the bowl over the apricots, then lightly sprinkle them with more sugar. Bake until the pastry is golden and the fruit is cooked through and slightly caramelised – 40-45 minutes. The finished tart should have a jam-like consistency, with a golden flaky crust. The liquid will be bubbling. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving and then dust with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream. The tart is best eaten on the day it is made.
From top Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini shop locally for ingredients; outside their shop with Smith Franchini’s husband and children