Dinner from the Croix-Rousse Market: Fresh Produce for Simple Recipes

Olives from Nyons, chickens from Bresse, local farmer’s cheese, fresh bread, and vegetables and fruits that mark the changing seasons– these are among the products at our Sunday food market. Each Sunday morning, our Lyon neighborhood, the hilltop “village” called the Croix-Rousse, hosts a busy food market. Block after block of foodstands offer whatever is fresh and local along with produce that expands the growing season by drawing from Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The Croix Rouse hosts markets everyday except Monday. But Sunday is the biggest market and the focus is food. Located along the edge of the Croix-Rousse plateau, just before the landscape takes a steep dive towards central Lyon, the Sunday market attracts hundreds of food shoppers with meat, fish, bread, wine, spices, and lots of vegetables and fruit.

Last week we bought early carrots and spinach, eggs, and farmer’s cheese to make a vegetable terrine. We bought ripe avocados, lemons, and écrevisse with tiny black eyes for an amuse bouche of guacomole and crawfish. For our main dish we chose cabillaud (cod) from the North Atlantic, some baby potatoes and haricots verts (french green beans) from Kenya (via the Croix-Rousse).

Sunday dinner with friends and family was fun to prepare with so many really good ingredients. We served the meal with some white wines from the market and a neighborhood wine shop. For the apéritif, a fragrant, Alsatian Gewürztraminer accompanied the amuse bouches and meaty Nyons olives. Then a white Burgundy was a good partner for the terrine first course and the main course of poached fish. Dessert was a chestnut mousse that we whipped up from ingredients on-hand, followed by a digestif called Genepi that was brought to us from Savoie. Genepi is a pale liqueur made from Alpine plants that is a favorite for aprés ski–it also worked aprés this meal.

It was un bon repas that was simple to prepare and tasty. We look forward to cooking and eating from our Sunday market as the season progresses.

Vegetable Terrine
250 grams carrots (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
250 grams spinach (about 10-12 oz of spinach)
250 grams parsnips (1 1/2 c)
200 grams farmers cheese (1 c –or use sour cream, creme fraiche, whipped or light cream cheese, fromage blanc–something mild enough to let the vegetable flavors through)
3 eggs
salt and pepper

Chop and cook each vegetable independently until soft. Add one third of the farmer’s cheese, one egg, and salt and pepper to taste to each vegetable, separately, mashing vegetables or pureeing them as you combine. Lightly butter a small loaf pan. Make a layer of the first vegetable mixture and cook at 180 C (350) for 10 minutes in a bain de marie (set loaf pan in a pan of water). Add the next vegetable mixture and cook 10 minutes. Add the final vegetable mixture and cook another 40 minutes. Serve warm, tri-color slices accompanied by a small salad for a first course. Optional: Saute shallots and red peppers and garnish the terrine.

Poached Cabillaud
This can be done on the stove or in a hot oven. Heat enough water and wine (50:50) in a pan large enough to just cover the fish. (Stir in some seasonings and onion to the liquid for a real court bouillion) Add fish and simmer for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Drain well and serve with a lightly seasoned sauce. We made a small amount of simple sauce with butter, heavy cream, and a little soy sauce. We served the fish with tiny boiled potatoes and almost crisp, very thin, cooked green beans.

Easy Chestnut Mousse with Fresh Strawberries
Whipping Cream
Chestnut Puree
One whipped egg white
Optional: vanilla sugar to taste

Combine 2/3 portion well whipped cream to 1/3 portion chestnut puree. Add whipped egg white and vanilla sugar if needed. Divide into small serving dishes and refrigerate while preparing dinner. Strawberries: slice strawberries and mix with a few teaspoons of sugar to create a sauce. Serve with mousse.

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