bonjour, food friends!

Since 1997 C'est si Bon! Cooking School, serving Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary, and Raleigh has been devoted to teaching hands-on old world culinary technique to aficianados of good food of all ages. Why? Because cooking together is one of the richest and simplest connections to a full plate at life's table!
On three acres, with a wood-fired bread oven, aromatic herb and seasonal vegetable garden, as well free-roaming chickens; we are well-known for our Kid-Chefs programs, Carolina On My Plate Teen-Chef Programs, Corporate Team Buildings, and One to One Classes. Come join us in the kitchen soon!
C'est si Bon! is the perfect setting to recharge, invigorate and challenge. We are fortunate to live within a bounty of Farms and Markets and we support cooking seasonally and locally whenever possible.  
So, whether you have just retired from a stressful executive position, are getting married for the first (or second!) time, or are a 10-year-old who watches Top Chef, we are interested in you being the star, not us...
We are not about the "show"; we want you to get your hands in the dough!
Merci Beaucoup!
Dorette and Rich

c'est si bon news

Meat Pies Stuffed With Swiss Chard, Golden Raisins, Ham, And Olives

2 cups levain (feed remaining levain, the mother and store in the frig till next week)

2 1/4 cups water

4 ½ - 5 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt



1 large bunch swiss chard, shredded

3 cloves garlic, smashed and salted

1 cup gruyere cheese, thin sliced and chopped

6 ounces ham, thin sliced and chopped

handful of olives, smashed, pitted and chopped coarsely

handful of golden raisins

crushed red pepper

salt and pepper


mix and knead this final dough however you are comfortable.  by hand is best. But be my guest and use a kitchen-aid type mixer. combine the levain and the water in at least a six quart bowl. break up the levain and continue stirring until the levain is partly dissolved and the mixture is slightly frothy.  add 1 cup of the flour and stir until well-combined.  add the salt and just enough flour to make a thick mass of dough which is difficult to stir. turn it out on a floured surface and knead in the remaining flour when needed, until the dough is firm and smooth.


ferment the dough for 2 hours. shape the dough into a ball, lightly oil a large bowl and set the dough to rest in the bowl. the dough will not act like a normal yeast bread, it will not rise to a puffy state. 


divide the dough and rest it for 35 minutes. deflate the dough and transfer it to a floured surface. cut the dough into 2 equal pieces.  shape each into a tight round ball. cover with a damp cloth or piece of plastic. leave for 30 minutes.


make the filling:

shred the swiss chard, prep the garlic, and the olives as well. heat a large enough sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. add and sauté the swiss chard and garlic till tender. remove form pan into a medium bowl. mix in ham, raisins and olives and crushed red pepper to taste. set aside. have gruyere cheese ready as well.


prepare the calzones:

after the hour is up, uncover the dough and divide it into six equal parts. roll each into 8 inch circles and place on sheet pan lined with parchment paper or that has been lightly sprinkled with corn meal. slightly off center place ½ cup of the filling and 2 tablespoons cheese.


leave an outer ring of ½” of dough free of any stuffing so the edges of the calzone will fold together easily.


bake at 450º for 10-12 minutes, or bake over an open fire. watch video to learn how. serve hot. 


Building a Levain, the Sourdough Starter, the Mother

levain – the sourdough starter – the “mother”

to create bread this way is really a way of life. a commitment to life. it begins four-five days prior to the first loaf of pain au levain or whatever bread you want to make! i used to use a mixture of 3 parts unbleached bread flour with 1 part sprouted wheat, which gave an end dough of about 30 percent whole grain which gives a nice consistency. but lately i have been experimenting with non-traditionally grain flours, spurred on not so much by the non-gluten rage, but more by the ancient greek and roman breads i am studying. begin this way.

first job is to build “the mother”, it takes 3 days. there, that was easier than you thought, right?

day 1

1 cup mixed flour

1 cup water

a pinch of moist yeast or dry yeast

day 2

1 cup mixed flour

1 cup water

day 3

1 cup mixed flour

1 cup water


the mother should have doubled in volume each day. at the end of the day 3 it will have the texture of thick batter plus an intense vinegar flavor. that’s good! you should also see a network of tiny bubbles. you now have a fully developed levain/mother. the next part of the process only takes 8 hours, not days.

and then, day 4 is final feeding - essentially feeding the mother a boost of new energy as she readies to make a batch of dough.

day 4

1 cup mixed flour

1 cup water

full batch of the levain/mother


stir this all well together and scrape down the sides of the container. 

in eight hours it is ready to use for your bread. reserve 1 cup of the mother to continue feeding. here’s how.

nourishing the mother

after this last, day 4, of feeding, the mother is ready to use.

with 1 cup mixed flour and 1 cup water. store in the fridge.

if a clear liquid forms on top, just stir it in, but if it turns pink, the mother is kaput. throw it away and begin again.




Avgolemono With Tender Greens - Our Version Of This Classic Lemon And Egg-Rich Soup

make ahead: the kale can be braised, separated from the cooking liquid, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days in advance. reheat it in its cooking liquid over low heat until warmed through. then add the warm greens just before serving the rich lemony soup.

6 -8 servings


for the kale:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

4 medium cloves garlic, minced with 1 tsp. salt

2 pounds kale, chopped and washed (may substitute any sturdy greens)

1 cup chicken stock


for the soup:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

5 cups chicken stock, plus 1 cup water

1/2 cup orzo or rice, cooked in salted water


for the liaison

3 tbsp. lemon juice

3 eggs


miner’s lettuce or fresh parsley for garnish


cook the kale:

combine the oil, onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and the onion is almost translucent. add the kale and stir to distribute the onion-garlic mixture. reduce the heat to low; cook for 5 minutes, until the kale begins to wilt.

add just enough of the broth to barely cover the kale. cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until almost tender. remove from the heat.


make the soup:

heat the olive oil in a medium pot and sauté the onions over medium-high heat until they are soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. while the onions are cooking, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and add the orzo or rice.

when the onions are ready, add the chicken stock and water and bring to a bare simmer. when the orzo or rice is nearly done — firm, but mostly cooked — drain the boiling water and add the pasta or rice to the chicken broth. add the cooked kale to the pot. let this cook 5-8 minutes, and then taste the soup for salt.


for the liaison

3 beat the eggs in a large bowl. whisking constantly, add the lemon juice to the eggs. you will need to temper the eggs before you add the egg-lemon mixture to the soup. it takes both hands (or two people!) to do this. with one hand, whisk the egg-lemon mixture vigorously. with the other, slowly pour in a ladle's worth of hot broth. do this at least twice, and you can add as many ladle's worth of broth as you want to the mixture.


then, turn off the heat to the soup. whisk the soup with one hand while you pour the hot egg-lemon mixture in with the other.


serve at once, garnished with miner’s lettuce or fresh parsley.

The Chapel Hill Farmers' Market Opens For the 2014 Season

The Chapel Hill Farmer's Market Opens for the 2014 Season on Saturday March 29th!

Hours change to 8am-12pm

As the Market Chef in Residence, please join Dorette Snover of C'est si Bon! who will be doing Seasonal Cooking Demonstrations once a month.  






Dorette's Spring "Tonic" ~ A Vinaigrette to Dress Your Bright Greens

 Crisp Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Washed and dried salad greens: such as escarole, watercress, romaine, spinach, green leaf, etc.

Allow 1 cup salad per person


1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or other herb)

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 


In the small bowl and using a whisk combine the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallots, vinegar.

Slowly pour in the oil while continuing to blend. Add chopped parsley and season with salt and

pepper. Pour over greens and serve immediately.