Île-de-France: the Jackpot for Sweets
In Île-de-France, cultivated alongside vegetables, fruits, and condiments is the art of confection. Historically, Île-de-France was the playground of the kings of France, and among its widely varied landscape of forests and fields, little marvels pop up discretely. Thus the champignon de Paris, originally cultivated in the abandoned quarries of Paris, with savory fruits and vegetables like the Faro apple, the Montmorency cherry, the Groslay pear, peas à la Française, Argenteuil asparagus, or chevrier beans, this princely region cultivates menus stocked with delicate and essential delights.
And as for meats, the Île-de-France region raises not only a fat bird and a fat pig, from which comes Jambon de Paris, but also magnificent beef and veal, which make their way into recipes such as Navarin of lamb, Beef Mironton, tête de veau vinaigrette and of course the pot-au-feu Henry IV.
And surely from a desire to round out its table, the region developed such succulent condiments as spicy Meaux Mustard, a cheese plate built around Brie, famous desserts like Paris-Brest, and the lemon tartelette to be savored alongside a glass of Grand Marnier, produced exclusively in Neauphle-le-Château. And don’t forget the sweets. Moret-sur-Loing barley sugar, rose candies from Provins, slabs of Chocolat de Meaux in ganache each enclosing a single grape, and the Nemours poppy, a candy made from fruit paste and liqueur: all favors fit for a king.
To taste from among the savory specialties: bouchées à la reine, Navarin of lamb, potage St. Germain, fricassee of rabbit, or French onion soup.
And sweets are not overlooked either: the Paris-Brest, the Saint Honoré, Parisian king cake, chouquettes, Nanterre brioche, Parisian brioche, the Bourdaloue tart, the Moka, puits d'amour, the Opera, mille feuilles, the savarin, and Parisian flan.
The most famous cheeses of Île-de-France are brie de Coulommiers, brie de Meaux, brie de Melun, and brie de Montereau.
Wines and Spirits
Île-de-France winemaking comprises Argenteuil wines and Butte Montmartre wines.
Bouchées à la Reine (serves 4)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- 7 ounces (200 g) puff pastry
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 2 chicken breasts
- 10 ounces (300 g) sweetbreads
- 10 ounces (300 g) button mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons (40 g) butter
- 1/3 cup (40 g) flour
- ½ cup (10 cL) crème fraîche
- 1 egg
Make the bouchées:
- Flatten out the puff pastry until it’s about ¾-inch thick, and with a round, ribbed cookie cutter, cut out the bouchées.
- Put them on a baking sheet and brush them with beaten egg.
- With a regular round cookie cutter, make an impression in the center of the bouchée to make the lid, then quarter it with a fork.
- Let it rest 30 minutes, then cook in a 400°F (210°C) oven for 30 minutes.
- When it comes out of the oven, cut out the lid.
- Prepare 2 cups of bouillon and cook the sweetbreads and chicken breasts in it for 30 minutes on medium heat.
- Pare, wash, and quarter the mushrooms.
- Add the mushrooms 5 minutes before the mixture is finished cooking.
Prepare the topping:
- Let the butter melt in a stewpot, add the flour (don’t let it brown), then pour in the bouillon (keeping the mushrooms, sweetbreads, and chicken breasts over the heat).
- Mix with a whisk, add the crème fraîche, and cook 10 minutes over low heat.
- Add the mushrooms, the sweetbreads, and the chicken breasts, sliced.
- Put the bouchées on a plate and fill them with the topping.
- Drop the rest of the topping around the bouchées.