Your Wine Is on Us If You Make this Recipe…

Once in a while, you want to go to a restaurant where the food will be spectacular and elegantly presented, where you’ll be left to eat at your leisure and not asked incessantly how each and every course tastes.  A restaurant where you know you’ll spend a lot of money because you’ve decided that you want a food event.  Nothing against good everyday eateries, but there are times when nothing less than a destination restaurant will do.  If you happen to be in the neighborhood and need an evening of food bliss, try Le Moulin à Huile in Vaison la Romaine in northern Provence. 

You know us — we’re not prone to unqualified rhapsodies, so let’s say right away that Le Moulin is not an absolute, unequivocal success.  The interior is bland and too brightly lit.  (When we sat inside, we noticed a painting of a scary yet maudlin clown on the wall.)   Try to get a seat in the garden overlooking the river instead, weather permitting, even though you’ll be seated on a plastic chair.  And on our second visit, the service was a bit indifferent.  But these things were far overshadowed by the food, which was inventive yet still traditional, to be savored the way you would a good glass of wine – enticing aroma, a burst of flavor, and a long finish. 

And then there were the offerings between courses, none listed on the menu, but every bit as wonderful as any of the expected dishes.  The most memorable of them looked like a jelly doughnut, but was filled with melting, oozing, Camenbert cheese, had a sprinkling of coarse salt on the top, and was served with a carrot-ginger puree on the side.   We were pretty much stuffed to the gills by then, but after the first couple of bites we had to finish it.  This is our attempt to recreate it at home.

The recipe is made over two days and has three things that usually scare people off:  making a yeast dough, rolling it out, and deep frying.  You will need a stand mixer, a 2.5-inch round cutter, a candy/deep fry thermometer, some time, and as Julia Child used to say, the courage of your convictions.  On the plus side, though, it contains two of our major food groups – deep fried (fill in the blank here) and cheese.  Needless to say, you should buy the best Camenbert you can find.  You can freeze the doughnuts after you’ve formed them, and then let them thaw and rise before frying, so you may want to consider doubling the recipe and freezing half.  Make the puree ahead of time and reheat it to serve with the doughnuts.  And, of course, serve a spectacular wine – like Les Terrasses du Belvédère Cuvée Prestige.  You’ve gone through all the trouble to deep fry, for heaven’s sake, so reward yourself!

And what’s more – to challenge someone to actually *make* these – bring one over to either of our houses and you’ll receive a free bottle of wine, compliments of First Vine.  Yes, we love fried cheese *that* much.  Oh and we love you too, of course.


Bon Appetit!

Dare & Tom

Camenbert “Doughnuts” with Carrot-Ginger Puree

Makes 8 Doughnuts


Doughnut Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

One-half cup whole milk, heated to lukewarm (100 degrees F)

2 cups all-purpose flour

One-quarter teaspoon table salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (plus extra butter for the rising bowl)

2 large eggs

2 small wheels of Camenbert cheese (6 or so ounces each), refrigerated

About 10 cups vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Coarse salt


Puree Ingredients

One pound carrots

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (or more) finely grated fresh ginger

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Combine the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pour the warm milk over and stir to blend.  Let stand about 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved and bubbly.  Meanwhile, whisk the flour and salt in a small bowl, and whisk the eggs and melted butter in another.  Butter a separate medium to large bowl and set it aside.


Using the dough hook, beat the butter and egg mixture at low speed into the yeast mixture until blended.  Beat in the flour a quarter cup at a time, then beat the dough on medium speed until it’s smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 3-5 minutes.   Scrape the dough into the buttered bowl (it will be sticky), and turn the dough with lightly oiled hands to coat it in butter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


Cut the Camenbert into 8 pieces and flatten each piece into a small disk.  Gently press down on the dough to deflate it.  Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to about a quarter-inch thickness.  Using a 2.5-inch diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds.  Re-roll the scraps and cut until you have 16 rounds.  Place one round on the work surface and center a disk of Camenbert on top.  Use your finger to trace some water on the edge of the round, then top with another dough round and press the dough edges together to seal.  Transfer the completed rounds to a lightly-floured baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel to rise for an hour or so, until they are nicely puffed.


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and have a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top of it nearby.  Pour the oil into a large dutch oven (there should be at least 2 inches of oil), attach the deep fry thermometer, and heat the oil to 375 degrees F.  Fry two doughnuts at a time until golden brown, adjusting the heat to maintain temperature, about one and a half minutes per side.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the rack to drain and put them in the oven to keep warm while you fry the remaining doughnuts.  Sprinkle them with a little coarse salt before serving with the puree.


To make the puree:  wash the carrots and trim the ends.  Cut into half-inch thick rounds and put in a microwave-safe dish.  Cover and microwave on high power for 8 minutes.  Put in a food processor and puree with the butter and ginger.  Add salt and pepper and more ginger to taste.



1 Response to Your Wine Is on Us If You Make this Recipe…

  1. Pingback: Wine in an age of uncertainty « Vine Art … from the palate of first vine wine online

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