Although we think of lavender as a perfume, it also has culinary uses. Used culinarily, lavender exudes a nuanced peppery flavor, with a hint of intense aroma. Here the lavender is combined with a bit of vanilla bean to add a familiar background note to the unexpected flavor of lavender. It is especially attractive to garnish these custards with a sprig of rosemary, either fresh or dried.
Georgeanne grew up in southern California and was educated at San Diego State University, the University of Aix-Marseille in Provence, and the University of California, San Diego, where she earned a Master’s Degree in History. In 1970 she and her husband returned to southern France with their small daughter (their son was born there) and bought an old farmhouse where they made and sold goat cheese, and raised and sold feeder pigs for two years before taking teaching jobs in Northern California, although they returned to France at least once a year thereafter.
In 1982 Georgeanne and a partner, Charlotte Glenn, started Le Marché Seeds, a national mail-order specialty vegetable seed company. With customers all over the United States, including emerging organic market growers, Le Marché was featured in such magazines as Family Circle, Metropolitan Home, Organic Gardening and Vogue, as well as in the food and garden sections of numerous newspapers.
Out of her these activities came her first book, The New American Vegetable Cookbook (1984) co-authored with Isaac Cronin and Charlotte Glenn. Since then, she has written POTAGER: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style, which has been called a modern classic by Patricia Wells, published into both French and German, and was also a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award, as was her next book, The Glass Pantry; Preserving Flavors. Shortly thereafter she won a James Beard award for her cookbook memoir, The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence. Her book, Aperitif, won a Julia Child award and Savoring France (the Series) a Versailles International Cookbook award.
The Mediterranean Herb Cookbook (2000), which celebrates herbs and the Mediterranean way with olive oil, was followed in 2001 by Olives, Capers, and Anchovies: The Secret Ingredients of Mediterranean Cooking, (published in Dutch in 2002) both from Chronicle Books. These were followed by Great Greens, also from Chronicle Books. In 2006, she brought to life Dr. Suess’s quirky take on food with The Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, (Random House 2006).
Her most recent book is Gather, Memorable Meals for Entertaining Throughout the Seasons.
In 2007 her memoir, A Pig in Provence (Chronicle Books, 2007; paperback Harcourt 2008) was published to much acclaim, and has been printed in both Dutch and Polish.
She is currently working on a dual voice memoir of friendship and continuing to work on a mystery series set in Provence, as well as the Davis Farmers’ Market Cookbook (spring 2012).
In addition to her books Brennan writes regular features for The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper’s food section has contributed to Fine Cooking, Bon Appétit, Cooking Pleasures, and Organic The New York Times, Garden Design, Metropolitan Home, Horticulture, and Organic Gardening. She has been featured in Food and Wine, Gourmet, and Sunset magazines.
In 2000, Georgeanne opened her own cooking vacation school in a restored 17th century convent located in a medieval village in Haute Provence, not far from her own small farmhouse. The week long experience for small groups features gathering and cooking from the kitchen garden – the time-honored cuisine du potager – as well as shopping in village markets and preparing the equally honorable cuisine du marché. Seasonal activities include mushroom hunting, gathering wild herbs, visits to olive oil mills and local cheesemakers, as well as visits to her favorite restaurants, antique markets and nearby historic sites. In 2006 she discontinued this program in favor of something closer to home: ‘Provence in California’ – culinary weekends at her small farm in Northern California, where participants gather and cook from her garden.
She also co-founded, in 2008, the Annual Provence Writing and Cooking Retreat, a week-long experience held at a farmhouse in the upper Var, a still very rural region of France.
She has been a featured speaker on Provence at the Culinary Academy of America at Greystone and at COPIA: The American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts and a spokesperson for the California Tree Fruit Agreement.
She also has been a guest chef on Crystal Cruises, a frequent guest at the Chef’s Holidays at Yosemite, Whistler School of Cooking in Vancouver, B.C., and at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, as well as a guest teacher at cooking schools nationwide. Additionally, she has taught food and memoir writing at the University of California at Berkeley and Davis Extensions.
Active in the Slow Food movement for many years, she has served as a jury member for Slow Food International Award, a member of Slow Food’s American Ark Selection Committee, and is currently co-leader of the Slow Food Yolo Convivum.
She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier.
Georgeanne lives with her husband on their small farm in Northern California. They have four children.
Georgeanne Brennan is an award-winning cookbook author, writer, and teacher specializing in garden fresh cooking, in season, with a Mediterranean slant.
Georgeanne Brennan’s business provides private cooking classes, culinary consulting including school districts, and writing and cooking workshops in California and Provence, France.
Her business activities merge her mulitple talents for food, wine, teaching, and writing. Her consulting client list includes Center For Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, CA, Farm to School, Davis, CA and the Yolo County Department of Agriculture, Woodland, CA.
Because cracked coffee beans are used to flavor the custard rather than powdered coffee, the custards remain classically cream-colored, but have the rich taste of cream-laced coffee. If concerned about caffeine, use decaffeinated beans.
The tart-sweet flavor of orange zest combined with the slightly peppery properties of fresh rosemary infuse the custard mixture with a subtle taste of the Mediterranean, where orange groves abound and rosemary grows wild. The caramelized brown sugar crust, the hallmark of crème brulee, cracks with the first dip of the spoon.
This salad is full of the taste of early summer, with a mix of textures and flavors. Young, firm, zucchinis are cut in thin pasta-like ribbons and marinated rather than cooked. For a heartier dish, cooked fettuccini could be added.
These are easily made with corn off the cob, and when you cook them the kernels might actually pop. The oregano and coarse sea salt add some extra taste and texture.
I love really fresh fish, simply prepared, with just a little olive oil. Meyer lemons, with a hint of sweetness, add a subtle taste to the finished dish. Alaskan halibut is a wonderful choice for this preparation.
Choose large Italian white beans, called Gigande, or substitute white kidneys or great northerns. The Gigande beans have a rich meaty flavor that is complimented by the zest of lemon and the nutty flavor of young arugula.
The gougere is a classic French savory appetizer.
Belgian endive, individually wrapped with thin slices of prosciutto, napped with a rich béchamel sauce, and then topped with grated Gruyere cheese is one of my favorite side dishes at any time of year.
The crispy won-tons, fried earlier in the day make a delicious base for a spicy appetizer. Choose top grade ahi and you won’t be disappointed. If you are reluctant to offer raw fish, you could sear the ahi before dicing it
This utterly simple tart is made with easy-to-use purchased puff pastry. Any seasonal fruit, such as nectarines, or plums can be used, as can thinly sliced apples.