Food from the northern region of Picardy reflects very much the French tradition. Hearty, country food such as flamiche, a kind of leek pie, Amiens duck pâté, its regional specialty cheeses and locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The area also offers a variety of desserts, including gateau battu and 'Chantilly' whipped cream, to be enjoyed by those holidaying in gites in Picardy.
Considered by some to be Picardy's answer to quiche Lorraine, this tasty leek pie is a fine example of northern France's country cooking.
As a relatively simple dish, the main ingredients are chopped leeks, crème fraiche (or milk) and butter. Additionally Flamiche aux Poireaux can sometimes be augmented by adding broccoli, carrots or grated cheese, or by seasoning the pastry with nutmeg.
The original recipe for this excellent duck pâté was credited to a butcher by the name of Degaud in the 1600s. Traditionally it is made with a whole de-boned duck, baked in the oven within a pastry after being stuffed with a mixture of fresh lard, mushrooms and rabbit.
Nowadays, it is possible to find foie gras, pistachio nuts and even slices of black truffle added to the recipe, with the finished dish often served as a sharing starter, with an accompanying glass or two of Burgundy.
Literally translated as 'beaten cake', gâteau battu as long been associated with the Easter holidays in France. Though it is nowadays eaten all year round and is traditionally found at family get-togethers and parties.
The cake is made from an astonishing 10-12 beaten egg yolks (hence the name) and it's from this that the cake gets its delightfully light and airy texture, reminiscent, though even lighter, than a brioche.
The original recipe also includes 250 grams of butter and the same of flour, folded together with bakers yeast. The resulting mix is then baked in specially shaped, very deep mould for about 20 minutes, when it rises to form its classic 'chef's hat' appearance.
Chantilly cream (crème Chantilly) is a whipped cream topping, consisting of fresh double cream (a requirement of the recipe being that it is VERY fresh), which is flavoured with icing sugar and vanilla. This extremely light desert was originally created in the 1700s by a chef called Vatel who first presented it at a banquet held in honour of the French King Louis XIV at the Château de Chantilly. Since that time it has become a staple topping for many different deserts and puddings throughout France and can even be found adorning cups of coffee.