Posts Tagged dining

Restaurant Review: La Galette Berichonne

10 April 2013

Fordland, MO is not exactly the culinary capital of the world. That’s why I was surprised to hear rave reviews about a French restaurant in Fordland called La Galette Berichonne. With a Gallic sense of skepticism, I decided to try it for myself.


First Impressions. The building itself is modest but decorated with little French touches. Each meal came with a house salad and homemade vinaigrette and an abundance of freshly-made bread. All food is made from scratch using local ingredients whenever possible and the quality is reflected in the great taste of each dish.

The Menu. La Galette Berichonne is a bakery/cafe so the menu includes lots of pastries and sandwiches. A chalkboard lists the hot entrees, which change on a regular basis. Everything on the board looked good to me so I peeked into the open kitchen and asked the chef for his recommendation: he suggested the Seafood Croustade and I was favorably impressed with the result (see below for pictures).


Seafood Croustade

Spinach quiche

Spinach quiche



Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

Fellow diners after a great meal (notice the open kitchen in the background)

The Verdict. What a surprise to find authentic French fare (though in American-sized portions) prepared by a genuine French chef at very decent prices in the heart of nowhere! This restaurant is a real jewel.

Casual lunch? Date night? This restaurant would fit any occasion and any budget. One suggestion: call before you go. They are open different days for different meals, and even offer a once-a-month 7-course evening dinner for those who reserve well in advance. Chef Parny offers some culinary classes as well.

Why Fordland, MO? So why did Chef Roland Parny choose Fordland, a town of 684 situated 20 miles east of Springfield, for his restaurant? Apparently this part of Missouri is similar to Le Berry, the region of central France where Parny grew up. “Berichonne” means “from Le Berry” and “Galette Berichonne” is a savory stuffed pastry typical of Le Berry.

Bon appétit!

An English Breakfast: The Stuff of Dreams

24 June 2012

Ahhhhh! A traditional English breakfast. The smell wafted up to me on the top floor of Abingdon House as I woke up this morning, my stomach rumbling in anticipation. The fare did not disappoint.

An English Breakfast

Eggs, “bacon,” mushroom, tomato, hash browns, sausage plus toast, croissants, fresh fruit and berries and several options of cereal, juices, milk and coffee. It’s the breakfast of kings. What a great way to start a Sunday morning!

This Holiday Season, Eat the European Way

22 November 2011

When it comes to overeating, holiday potlucks and buffets are the ultimate danger zone. The temptation of a buffet, of course, is to taste everything. Keeping in mind these two steps (practiced for centuries by Europeans and gourmets) can help you navigate the buffet minefield and come away from parties satisfied, yet without the customary side dish of guilt.


1.      Enjoy with your eyes first. Appreciating the presentation of a dish (actually looking at your food and admiring it) enhances the taste of the food.

2.      Savor each bite. Savor first with your nose by noticing the smell of the food, then with your palate. Vocalizing your appreciation of the food’s qualities will guide your taste buds into noticing each subtle flavor and texture.

3.      Take your time. Don’t rush! Pause when you are intent in conversation to avoid mindless eating. Enjoy the atmosphere around you and breathe deeply as you dine.



If the event is casual enough, get up frequently from the table and return to the buffet for each “course.” For example:

1. Salad and Soup. By beginning with a soup and salad, your stomach starts filling up so the “I’m full” signal gets relayed sooner to your brain. Some tips to remember at the salad bar:

  • Start with a solid base of leafy greens
  • Add real veggies on top
  • Go for a rainbow of dark, bright colors
  • Avoid croutons and bacon bits
  • Clear dressings (simple vinaigrettes, for example) generally have fewer calories than creamy dressings (like ranch and thousand island)
  • Clear soups generally have fewer calories than creamy soups

2. Main Dish. Help yourself to a small portion of one entrée (beef, fish, chicken, pork) and two small sides – you can even have one small portion of bread. Or sample small portions (silver dollar size) of several entrees and sides, but only enough to fill a small plate, not a dinner plate. The key emphasis should be on moderation and the key word should be “small.”

3. Cheese and Fruit. Indulge in a few bites of cheese with crackers, and have as much fruit as you desire. The goal is for you to start feeling full around this point to avoid the grandfather of all pitfalls: dessert!

4. Dessert. By the time you get to this course, if you’ve focused on the presentation, smell and taste of your food and gotten up between courses to walk around, you should be filling up. Do a dessert sampler (1 ½ bites of anything that looks good to you or 1 small slice/portion of your favorite dessert; no ice cream unless that’s your whole dessert). Enjoy with coffee or other hot drink.

If you follow these steps, you’ll leave the buffet full but not stuffed. You’ll have exercised self-control but not lost any dining pleasure. You’ll be constantly amazed by the Lord’s creativity when it comes to food, with such a variety of colors, textures, flavors and smells. As the Psalmist wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

A Tuscan Holiday

17 November 2011

Cooking Class

The theme for tonight’s cooking class was “Tuscan Holiday,” inspired by Chef James Clary’s travels. Whereas the previous cooking class (where we made sushi) was very hands-on and interactive, this was more like watching a cooking show where you can actually sample the fare or like a “chef’s table” where the chef makes the food in front of you and then it’s served to your table.


Tuscan Pizza

Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Risotto

Zabaglione with fresh strawberries

Tuscan Pizza



1 package dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 TBS sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour

For toppings

3 lbs fresh or canned tomatoes

4 medium-sized fresh balls of mozzarella


ground pepper

12 leaves of fresh basil

extra virgin olive oil

To prepare dough

Mix the water with the sugar and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until dissolved and the yeast starts to bubble. Add the salt, olive oil and 1 cup flour and mix well. Add 2 more cups flour. Dough should still be a little sticky but should be able to form a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and start to knead, adding a little bit of flour as needed, until your dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form a ball, place into an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth napkin. Let dough rise for 45 minutes. Punch down and divide in half.

To prepare pizza

Lightly oil your baking pizza pan. With your hands, press on the dough to spread it out over the size of your pan, to about 1/2 cm high (very thin). If using canned tomatoes, make sure they are well drained and distribute over dough. If using fresh tomatoes, cut into slices and spread them out on dough. Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and spread over the top, then salt and pepper to taste, adding washed basil leaves last. Let the pizza rest for another 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime, heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the pizza before placing into the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted and the crust is golden.

Polenta and Mushroom Ragout


For the polenta, first step

2 cups chicken stock or bouillon

2 TBS organic olive oil

2 TBS minced garlic

1 1/2 cup polenta

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Bring stock to a boil in medium saucepan. Add olive oil and garlic. Slowly add polenta, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Polenta is done when it begins to come off sides of pan. Pour polenta onto a cookie sheet rubbed with olive oil and refrigerate until you are ready for step two.

For the polenta, second step

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chicken broth

1 cookie sheet polenta from above

1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme

1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

8 oz cream cheese

Place cream and broth on stovetop in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Break up polenta into pieces and fill a food processor 2/3 full of polenta. Add some of the cream mixture to the polenta and process until smooth. Add some of the thyme, Parmesan, and cream cheese and process until smooth, but thick. Remove from processor and repeat process until all of the polenta, the herbs, and the cheeses are used. Mix all batches together in a large bowl and serve.

For the mushrooms

3 lb. mushrooms

1 cup minced white onion

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup white wine

1 cup Marsala

3/4 tsp salt

4 oz Gorgonzola cheese

In a very hot saute pan, cook mushrooms and onions in oil until nicely browned. Add wine and Marsala, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquids are almost gone. Add salt and Gorgonzola. Place about 1 cup of polenta in bowl. Top with mushrooms and garnish with Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Risotto with Squash Medley


2 TBS butter

2 TBS olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice

Lightly oil a large sheet tray with some vegetable oil and set aside. Melt butter with oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic, cover pan, and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. The onions should be completely soft. Uncover pan, add rice and stir until opaque, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Add 1/2 cup of stock and 1/2 cup of wine and cook until almost completely absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding stock and wine, 1/2 cup at a time, until when tasted there is no “crunch” left in the rice, about 30 minutes. Rice should still be firm, but not crunchy at all.

As soon as rice is done, scrape from pan with a rubber spatula onto reserved sheet tray. Let rice cool completely.

Pork with wine reduction


2 TBS fennel seeds

1 tsp chili flakes

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove pork from package and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub spices and olive oil all over meat. Heat a large skillet on high for at least 4 minutes. Add vegetable oil and sear meat on all sides. Remove from pan and place on a roasting pan. Pour broth into pan. Cover with foil and bake for 4 to 5 hours until pork is fork tender. Serve with Risotto.

Strawberries and Cream


8 egg yolks

3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

1/3 cup sugar

Mix ingredients together in top of double boiler and cook rapidly over boiling water, whisking constantly until mixture doubles in bulk and thickens. Remove from heat and whisk for another minute. Pour mixture warm over fresh berries, serve it in a tall glass by itself, or chill it and serve as a sauce for berries.

Buon Appetito!

Ready To Roll: My First Sushi Class

24 October 2011

Tonight I learned how to make, roll, and cut sushi.

My friend Shannon (the one with a knack for finding great places, as noted in A Day Trip to Branson) discovered that a high-end local grocery store was holding cooking classes, and that the next class was on making sushi. I pretty much have to be forced or tricked into trying new things, but I make an exception for anything cooking-related. We signed up.

When we arrived in the kitchen classroom, each place was set with a bowl of rice, a bamboo sushi mat covered with plastic wrap, a plate of nori (seaweed paper), a cup of water, a small cup of sesame seeds, and three different sushi sauces: sushi pink sauce, soy sauce, and ponzu sauce.

Sushi Roll #1: Vegetarian Roll

The chef, Terri Smith, immediately put us at ease with her friendly manner. A couple of kitchen helpers brought tea and water to our tables throughout the lesson and added a special touch of hospitality. Terri and her sous-chef never talked down to us, but always explained things in very simple terms  — which I really appreciated because it can be a little intimidating to learn a new craft, especially if you’re a perfectionist.

Most everything had been prepped in advance as far as the sushi filling went, so most of the time was spent learning how to put the rice on the nori in the right way, where to put the filling, and how to properly roll it. We used the bamboo mat to roll the sushi. We learned how to make sushi rolls with the rice both on the inside and on the outside.

Sushi Roll #3: Swordfish Sushi


Sushi Roll #2: Spicy Shrimp Roll









I especially enjoyed the fact that they let us sample our sushi as we went along, and even gave us boxes to take home the leftovers! We learned a ton about sushi, got lots and lots of tips, and I can’t wait to sign up for the next class.


A Hole-In-One Sunday Dinner

23 October 2011
Quick & Easy Sunday Meal


Honey-Mustard Chicken

Oven-Fried Potatoes

Sauteed Green Beans


Honey-Mustard Chicken

(Recipe from Easy Everyday Cooking)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4


1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup honey

2 TBS chopped fresh dill or 1 TBS dried dill

1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

1 (2 1/2-lb) chicken, quartered

Honey-Mustard Chicken

Make Ahead: Make the honey-mustard sauce ahead of time as directed in step 1. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine mustard and honey in a small bowl. Stir in dill and orange peel.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chicken, skin-side down, on prepared pan. Brush sauce on top of chicken; coat well.

3. Turn chicken over. Gently pull back skin and brush meat with sauce. Gently pull skin back over sauce.

4. Brush skin with remaining sauce. Bake until juices run clear when thickest portion of meat is pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Notes: Make measuring honey easier by spraying the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray. The honey will not stick to the cup.

Oven-Fried Potatoes

(Recipe from Southern Living Cookbook)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6


3 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 TBS grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

Make Ahead: Cut up the potatoes ahead of time as in step 1 below. Place them in a large bowl and cover them with water. Refrigerate until needed, but no more than a few hours.


1. Wash potatoes well, and cut each into 1/8 wedges. Place wedges, slightly overlapping, in a single layer in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients. Brush potatoes, with half of oil mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, basting occasionally with remaining oil mixture.


  • When cooking chicken and potatoes in the same oven, cook both at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove chicken when juices run clear and keep monitoring potatoes until golden brown.
  • You may need more oil mixture than the recipe calls for.

Sauteed Green Beans

(Consider steamed green beans for a lower-fat alternative)

1 10-0z bag frozen green beans or fresh green beans, prepared by snapping off both ends

1 1/2 TBS butter

In saucepan over medium heat sautee green beans until tender, stirring occasionally.

Lambert’s Cafe: Missouri Dining at Its “Finest”

22 October 2011

Lambert's Cafe

Lambert’s Cafe
1800 W. State Hwy J.
Ozark, MO 65721
(417) 581-7655

I was raised in Paris, France, where food is sophisticated, the dining atmosphere is quiet and reserved, the service is unobstrusive, and the portions are small. Gastronomy is practically the national religion.

At seventeen, barely recovered from jetlag, I encountered Lambert’s Cafe. It was like landing in someone else’s family reunion, complete with embarrasingly loud, obnoxious, backwoodsy relatives. I had never seen anything like it. Frankly, I was appalled.

We had to wait forever, the line stretching around the building. Inside, the restaurant was crowded and loud. Once we were seated, waiters came around with cauldrons full of hot food they call “Pass Arounds”: fried okra, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomato, and blackeyed peas. They scoop out portions of the fried okra and drop it on a paper towel in front of you. You can probably imagine my astonishment. (Fortunately, they did provide us with flatware!)

When the food came, the portions were HUGE. I had never seen such large portions in my life. Naively, I ordered a salad because I assumed it would be the lightest, smallest thing on the menu. Wrong!! It came in a massive breadbowl. At the end of the meal when I’d hardly made a dent in my salad, I asked for a to-go box, which ended up being my second mistake. They do not provide “doggy bags.” Instead, the waiter brought me a clear plastic bag, stuffed my salad inside, and tied it at the top with a knot.

And yet, despite my own horrific experience, I looked around the restaurant and everyone seemed to be having so much fun! They laughed, they ate, they smiled … and they ate some more. Everyone was having a wonderful, relaxing time.

I didn’t go back for another seventeen years. By then, I’d grown a little more used to American ways and enjoyed Lambert’s not as a wide-eyed French girl but as a tourist on an adventure in good home cooking and dining entertainment — Country Style.

Oh, and just a bit of friendly advice. When you hear the waitstaff call out “Hot Rolls!!!!!!!” — Duck.

They don’t call it the “Home of the Throwed Rolls” for nothin’!

Sally Lunn’s Tea Room — Bath, England

23 April 2011
Sally Lunn’s House
Sally Lunn’s
4, North Parade Passage
Bath BA1 INX, England
(01225) 461634
Opening Hours: Every day except Christmas. Museum and refreshment rooms open 10:00 a.m. (Sun 11:00 a.m.). Historic Evening Dinner from 5:00 p.m.


Sally Lunn’s Tea Room occupies the oldest house in Bath (c. 1482). It derives its name and reputation from a young Huguenot refugee who worked there in the 1680s as a baker’s helper. She introduced the baker to the French art of making brioche — a very light, semi-sweet bread — and greatly influenced the creation of what became the bakery’s trademark bun, a rich round bun eventually named the Sally Lunn Bun.

The Sally Lunn Bun was as popular a delicacy in Colonial America as it was in Georgian England, and is still popular, especially in southern states.

The Sally Lunn House is now a living museum where diners can experience a taste of Bath in the late 17th century. You can visit the original kitchen in the cellar and see the oven where Sally used to make her buns. The house is located at the heart of the city of Bath, just a couple of streets over from the ancient Roman Baths and the Abbey.


Sally Lunn's Entrance


Morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea are served in three themed rooms. The menu displays a great variety with every imaginable way of eating a Sally Lunn bun, both sweet and savory. Candlelight period dinners are offered in the evenings.


Try the Sally Lunn cream tea, which consists of half a toasted and buttered bun served with strawberry jam and lots of local clotted cream, or the Jane Austen cream tea (Jane Austen lived in Bath for a time) which is the same, except with raspberry spread. Both are served with either tea or coffee.


Great place for a mid-afternoon tea break. The prices on the daytime menu are very reasonable, the service is friendly, and the Sally Lunn bun lends a bit of diversity to the normal afternoon tea routine of scones and clotted cream. The rooms are small and cramped, but give an authentic feeling of dining in Georgian times and could be seen as a rather cozy, intimate setting. I was a bit skeptical at being served “half” a bun, but the buns were large enough to satisfy even my appetite. Expect some crowds, of course, as this is a “must-see” stop on many a tour.

One Perfect Day: The James River Plantations

1 April 2011
The James River Plantations, located in Virginia between Williamsburg and Richmond, date back to 1613 and have witnessed much of America’s history, from the early settlements at nearby Jamestown to key events of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Be prepared to hear intriguing stories, fascinating historical tales, and to be dazzled by the homes’ stunning architectural features and breathtaking natural settings.

Tip: Before you take this memorable journey back in time, pack a few things that will make your day even more enjoyable: a picnic lunch, a blanket, cushions, binoculars, camera, book, and drinking water.

Sherwood Forest

9:00 am — Stop at Sherwood Forest, home of the 10th U.S. President John Tyler (president from 1841-1845). The plantation dates from 1616 and has been in use for almost 400 years. The house is America’s longest frame-house at 300 ft in length. If you have time, take the grounds tour ($10). There’s a little box for you to slip in your money and grab a brochure. The house is open by appointment only and tours cost $35 per person. Grounds are open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.

9:30 am — As you head to the next stop, Berkeley Plantation, take time to read the numerous historical markers lining both sides of Route 5. You can also stop at Evelynton, Westover, and other plantations along the way, though most are open for grounds tours only.

Berkeley Plantation

10:00 am — Stop at Berkeley Plantation, site of the first Thanksgiving and the place where “Taps” was composed. Berkeley Plantation is one of two plantations that cannot be missed (the other is Shirley Plantation). Allow 1- 1 1/2 hour to view the documentary film and to visit the house on a guided tour. Berkeley is open daily Jan to mid-March 10:30 am – 3:30 pm, mid-March to December 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Admission: $11 adults, $6 children 6-12, $7.50 students 13-16. AAA, Military and Senior discounts available (10%).

12:00 pm — Berkeley is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. You can either tailgate in the parking lot, take advantage of the picnic tables near the house, or lay a blanket under the willows on the vast lawn and lunch in full view of the majestic James River. 

12:30 pm — Walk the grounds and make your way down to the river, pausing at one of the many benches until fancy moves you on. Sit on a log with your back to the house and your feet in the James River. There is lots to see, including the “Taps” memorial,  the formal gardens, and the air-conditioned gazebo.

2:00 pm — Leave for Shirley Plantation. Note historical markers along the way.

Shirley Plantation

2:15 pm — Arrive at Shirley Plantation and purchase tickets for the next available tour. Walk around the gardens while you wait for the bell to ring, announcing your tour. There’s a lovely covered area to wait outside of the gift shop, or you can sit under the pergola in the flower garden. Allow 45 minutes for the house tour and additional time for visiting the grounds and out buildings. Shirley is open daily from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Admission: $11 adults, $10 seniors, $7.50 Youth (6-18), free under 6, AAA and Military discounts available.
4:30 pm — Visit grounds of other plantations in the area, like Piney Grove. Head back towards Williamsburg on Route 5 at a leisurely pace.

5:30 pm — Eat at Charles City Tavern (reservations recommended, especially on weekends). For a review of Charles City Tavern and hours of operation, click here. If you are looking for seafood on the water, consider the Blue Heron; if looking for sandwich-type fare, check out Cul’s Courthouse Grille. None of these options suit your fancy? Keep driving to Williamsburg where there’s plenty of variety. 

Ferry View of the James River

7:00 pm — After dinner, head out again on Route 5 in the direction of Williamsburg. Follow signs for the ferry.  Take the ferry over to Scotland (it’s free) and back again. You can see the replicas of the 3 ships at Jamestown and other beautiful views. There’s not much to see in Scotland except countryside, but it makes for a nice and peaceful drive. 

Those who live in amazing historical places often think to themselves, “Someday I’ll explore this area, but not now: I’m too busy.” And the days turn into years. To anyone contemplating a visit to the James River Plantations, I say go and go now: clear your calendar, get a road map, and make your way down scenic Route 5 and its beautiful plantation homes. You’ll be glad you did.

Global Gourmet: Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

24 March 2011

To the discriminating palate, rarely is store-bought fare as good as home-made. But there are a few glorious exceptions. One of those is brownies: who makes “from scratch” home-made brownies these days?? Why would you, when there’s a box mix to suit every possible chocolate craving?

Ham & Potatoes Au Gratin

One other exception is potatoes au gratin. Now, au gratin sounds like a fancy French term, right? Would you believe the literal meaning is “with the scraping” (i.e. the burnt part)? Doesn’t everything sound better in French? 🙂

Anyway, here is a fun, easy, quick, deeee-licious recipe that takes a store-bought box of potatoes au gratin and improves on it so that it tastes completely home-made.

(Note: Try pairing with a fresh garden salad!)


1 box Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes

2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup milk

2 TBS margarine or butter

1/2 cup cubed ham steak, uncooked

1/4 cup chopped red onion, optional

Chopped parsley, fresh or dried, optional



1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir sauce mix from package, boiling water, milk and margarine or butter with whisk in 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in potatoes from package.

2. Add ham and onions, stirring gently to distribute. Sprinkle lightly with parsley flakes.

3. Bake uncovered about 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender (sauce will thicken as it stands).

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