February 5, 2013

Cooking Sprouts Winter Session #2: J'Adore France!

For our second Winter Session of 2013, we decided to do things the French way! Ooh la la.

We began the day with a geography activity-- and on a large map spread on the floor, had our little sprouts locate France.  It was then the perfect time to have a little talk about the country itself-- did you know that France is not only one of the centers of agriculture in Europe, but also the world?  Due to a variance in the country's climate in different regions,  France is able to to grow an abundance of fruits and vegetables, as well as wheat. As for the cuisine, well, that was a hard one to review! Given how old France is, history has very much impacted the development of the country's cuisine! Thus,  French cuisine boasts an interesting diversity of dishes-- and though perhaps once each a considered a fusion, now all considered a classic french dish. We also explained that cuisine also differs in each region. One thing has stayed the same through the years, however, and that is the abundance of cheese!

On the menu was of course a warming veggie filled ratatouille,  chicken with tarragon,  and as a treat, crepes with Fruit Compote! There's something very comforting and warming about French food, and the sprouts thought so too :) We focused our food skills one more on dicing and chopping veggies, and also, on knowledge of spices and herbs! A successful day it was once more!

Tarragon Mushroom Chicken

Makes 4 large servings

  • 2 thick chicken breasts, cut in half to 4 thin chicken breasts
  • ½ cup of chicken stock
  • 1 package white button mushroom, 8oz. (any mushroom you like will work)
  • 3 big spoonfuls of dijon mustard
  • 1 small onion

  • Dried Tarragon
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Olive oil for sauteing


  1. Slice the mushrooms and saute them, on med-high heat. The goal is to brown them, not necessarily completely cook them. In a regular sized saute pan, you will need to do 2 batches. Salt the mushrooms lightly after they hit the pan. 6 minutes or so per batch. Pre-heat the oven to 375.
  2. While the mushrooms are sauteing, mix two big spoonfuls of mustard in a bowl with 2 pinches of tarragon and just a touch of chicken stock (water will work fine too). Mix well and rub the chicken with the mixture.
  3. Arrange 4 piles of mushrooms in an oven safe dish or sheet. Put a chicken breast on top of each pile and put in the oven.
  4. Chop the onion finely and saute it in a touch of olive oil. After 5 minutes, add in a spoonful of mustard and the rest of the chicken stock. Mix, let reduce by about a ⅓. Spoon over the chicken. Take out the chicken when the internal temperature is 160 degrees. About 20 minutes total cook time for the chicken.


Basic Crepe Recipe

Makes recipe makes 8 crepes

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached or whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • oil spray for cooking


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and the eggs, slowly pour in the milk and water, stirring to combine until smooth.
  2. Heat a medium size frying pan over medium high heat, oil lightly. Pour ¼ cup of the batter onto the frying pan (less is the frying pan is small), tilt the pan with a circular motion to evenly coat the bottom of the pan
  3. Cook one side for about 2 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a large flat spatula, turn and cook the other side.

Fruit Filling
Serves 6

  • 2 pears
  • 2 apples
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup water (probably won’t use it all)
  • 2 TBsp of brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

1. Peel, core and dice the pears and apples. Cut the banana into little pieces too. Any fruit will work. Make sure the pieces are the size you want in the compote.
3. Simmer the fruit in the water, adding about half the sugar. After 15-20 minutes, the mixture should begin the thicken.
4. Add the rest of the sugar, and continue to cook down until the consistency is thick. Remember it will thicken a little when cooled. Ladle a tablespoon of the filling into a cooked crepe, roll it up and enjoy!