Red River College recently signed an agreement with the Institut Paul Bocuse in France. The institute is named after the French chef based in Lyon, famous for the high quality of his restaurants and his innovative approaches to cuisine. He is one of the most prominent chefs associated with the nouvelle cuisine, which is less opulent and calorific than the traditional cuisine classique, and stresses the importance of fresh ingredients of the highest quality.
At 87, Mr. Bocuse lives above one of his restaurants and still goes down every evening to greet the guests.
The agreement will allow students from the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to continue their studies in France both at the institute or one of their restaurants. Red River College is also the only Canadian partner in the alliance that includes the top 14 culinary schools from around the world.
If you thought I was going to give you a recipe for beef bourguignon or French onion soup, you are wrong. I want to share with you a simple recipe from the Alsace region, which borders Germany. Somewhat resembling pizza without the tomato sauce, the smoky bacon and onion makes sure this goes with a Riesling or Weissbier.
FOR THE DOUGH
2 g (1/2 tsp) instant yeast
2 g (1/2 tsp) sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) plus 30 ml (2 tbsp) warm water
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
4 ml (3/4 tsp) coarse salt
Olive oil, for bowl
FOR THE TOPPING
300 g (2/3 lb) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large yellow onions, julienned
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
125 ml (1/2 cup) crème fraiche
1 g (1/4 tsp) ground coriander
75 g (2 1/2 oz) Comté or Gruyère cheese, finely grated
15 ml (1 tbsp) packed fresh thyme leaves
1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, flour, sugar and salt. Stir in water with a wooden spoon until a rough dough is formed. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until dough is slightly tacky. Do not use too much flour while kneading.
2. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rest in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 250 C (475 F) for at least 45 minutes.
4. To make the topping: Place bacon in a medium skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and crispy, about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
5. Drain the bacon fat, leaving 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Add onions and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 12 minutes. Remove onions from heat and set aside to cool.
6. In a small bowl, mix together crème fraiche and coriander; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
7. Back to the dough. Punch it down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the rest covered), roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle about 25 centimetres by 20 centimetres (10 inches by 8 inches), stretching with fingers if necessary
8. Transfer dough to the back of a lightly floured baking sheet.
9. Spread one-quarter of the crème fraiche mixture evenly over dough, spreading as close to the edge as possible. Top with one-quarter of the bacon, onions, cheese and thyme.
10. Gently shake tarte on the baking sheet to ensure that it will slide easily onto pizza stone. Open oven door and align the front of the baking sheet with the back of the stone; quickly jerk the baking sheet backward to release tarte onto the stone. Bake, rotating with a large spatula halfway through, until crust is crispy and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
11. Remove tarte from oven. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
12. Repeat with the remaining dough.