Scenes from a French Country Kitchen

I haven't had time to tell you much (or anything) 
about our time in the Loire Valley
but while we were there,
we had the absolute luck to find ourselves
in one of the most charming manoirs, Le Manoir Champfreau.

We felt like royalty of our own special land
getting to have this 800 year old home all to ourselves...

Come on, admit it- you would, too, right?

After a day of castle-hunting & market browsing,
we decided to forgo a heavy, multi-course meal
and eat simple with the treasures we had found at the market.

As it often goes with understated moments,
this night ended up being one of our favorites of the trip.

Uncovering the quirks of a new kitchen together,
having good music cheering us on as we cooked,
laughing through disastrous attempts to caramelize sugar...
sending the boys out to pick herbs for us in the garden...

well, the whole night was just perfect.

And actually eating the food was nice, too. :)

My friend, Kellee, found a recipe in one of the cookbooks
that the owners of the Manoir left for the guests.

It was a risky choice, but we figured it just might be the combination
 of two things that should had been keep away from each other for long enough...

French mustard + Italian pasta.

Could the marriage of these two beloved foods be a disaster?
Or could it be the joining of two houses once divided?

We decided there was only one way to know for sure.

Our instincts served us correctly...
it was delicious!

The recipe perfectly blends the tanginess of dijon mustard with cream...
and the addition of the fresh herbs brings in a fresh finish.

It would be amazing with roasted chicken.

This recipe is the best souvenir I took home from our trip to the Loire Valley...

From my (temporary) kitchen to yours,
Dijon Penne With Fresh Herbs


3 tablespoons of course sea salt
8 ounces penne pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper (or black, if you don't have white)
3 tablespoons of finely minced chives, for garnish
Freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese, for garnish.


Cook the pasta in a large pot. Add a bit of salt to the water to add flavor, and a drop of olive to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until it reaches al dente- soft, but with a bit of firmness. 
Set aside for a few minutes until sauce is done

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan large enough to hold the pasta, combine the cream, egg yolk, and mustard.
Whisk to blend. Season to taste with sea salt & white pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat & keep warm.

Remove the colander and drain the pasta. Shaking to remove excess water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the saucepan. Toss to evenly coat the pasta. Cover, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with minced chives and freshly grated cheese. Serve immediately.

*Images original to Aspiring Kennedy
**Le Manoir Champfreau is amazing. If you are looking for a private home rental in the Loire Valley,  I can't recommend a better place to stay in the Loire. You feel like royalty- but you'll only have to pay like a normal person! :) 
Posted on May 3, 2012 and filed under "France", "Loire Valley", "delicious dish".