Our First New York Dinner Party: Slow-Cooked Bavette aux Caramelized Échalotes

RECIPE: Slow-Cooked Bavette aux Caramelized Échalotes

Bavette aux Echalotes Bavette aux échalotes is a commonplace bistro dish, and I remember exactly when Mr. English fell in love with it.  It was at a tiny, vivacious place called the Coquelicot in Antibes.  He was sorting through the menu and asking me to translate.  When I finally said steak with onions after translating a few in the vein of ‘veal kidneys’, he put down the menu and declared ‘done!’  Ever since then, it has been his ‘safe’ French dinner out if all else looks too Gallic.

Trouville Bavette with Shallots

One of Mr. English’s many bavettes–this one from Trouville in Normandy.

Two of our best friends were coming over for dinner last Saturday night.  Their daughter was only a few weeks old—it was her first dinner out.  A HUGE occasion.  And we had never had people over for dinner at our new New York apartment.  An extra huge occasion.  So the pressure was on to do something crowd-pleasing and heartwarming.  I thought about the bavette.  It’s a cheap cut of meat—usually skirt steak, although I prefer flank steak as I find it somewhat more tender—so I could make it in abundance (my first rule of dinner parties).  Usually, it’s seared to medium-rare, topped with sautéed shallots, and glazed in red wine.  But I wanted to cozy it up for the chilling New York fall, and make it more hostess-proof (so that I wasn’t manacled to the stove).

Making Bavette aux Echalotes

Getting an extremely caramelized shallot is what makes this dish so cozy and French Onion Soup-like.

So I made my own version of slow-cooked bavette aux échalotes.  I slowly caramelized the shallots until they were soft and sweet and deeply gold.  Then, in the same pot, I just seared the two flank steaks to give them a nice barbecue-like bark, then poured some red wine and stock, garlic and thyme, and some of the caramelized shallots over them.  I left them to blip away while I got on with the rest of my life for four hours.  By the time the Bewleys arrived, the meat was fall-apart tender, and the red wine sauce sweet and reduced.  I didn’t have to sear steaks ‘à la minute’.  I just sliced up the steak–although it’s more like stew at this point, which I love–topped it with the reserved caramelized onions, poured over the red wine jus, and topped with some fresh thyme for appearances.  It was all gone by Matilda’s bedtime.

How to Serve Bavette

All that is necessary to partner with this bavette is a green salad and phenomenal bread.

Slow-Cooked Bavette aux Caramelized Échalotes
serves 4 thoroughly

Bavette aux EchalotesCaramelized Shallots

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt

METHOD

Sauté on medium to medium-low for 40 minutes.  If the pan gets too dark and you are worried the shallots are burning, add in a little bit of water as need, and stir to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan.  Once the shallots are deeply golden and soft, set aside.

Bavette aux Échalotes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1-pound flank steaks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine, like pinot noir
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, tied with twine
  • 6 cloves garlic, left whole in their jackets
  • 1.5 cups beef broth
  • One batch of Caramelized Shallots (as above)

METHOD

Pat the steaks dry with paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until rippling.  Sear the meat on both sides until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side.

Add the wine to the pot, and reduce by two thirds.  Add the thyme, garlic, and beef broth, along with 1/3 of the Caramelized Shallots (stash the remainder in the fridge until you’re ready to serve).  Bring the broth to a boil.  Cover, and simmer for 3.5 to 4 hours, turning the meat once.  Take off the cover, and simmer an additional 30 minutes, to thicken the sauce.

Right before serving, reheat the Caramelized Shallots (you can even do this in the microwave).  Spoon the thickened jus on a serving platter.  Carefully slice the tender steaks across the grain (they will fall apart a bit, but that’s all part of the goodness).  Top with the warm shallots, and a few fresh strands of thyme if you have them.  Serve with a green salad and really good bread.

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French Women and Oysters: Mireille Guiliano Stops by To Talk Joie de Vivre and Hew New Book, Meet Paris Oyster

RECIPE: Mireille Guiliano's Magical Breakfast Redux, from French Women Don't Get Facelifts

Paris OysterToday, Mireille Guiliano, the doyenne of French-American living who brought us French Women Don’t Get Fat, publishes her latest book, Meet Paris Oyster: A Love Affair With The Perfect Food.  I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy.  Quelle chance!  I could not be more over the moon that Mireille agreed to do an interview for French Revolution on oysters, food, love, where to eat, and just generally how to live with joie de vivre.  She is honest and opinionated as ever.  Merci, Mireille!

I remember—vividly—lying in my bed, senior year of college, diving into French Women Don’t Get Fat with the same flurry of excitement that I usually reserve for chocolate mousse.  Ironic, I know.  But as Mireille Guiliano taught us in 2005, it’s all about moderation and life’s little pleasures.

Since then, I have been a devotee of Mireille, reading every one of her volumes.  They even have their own corner on my bookshelf.

I admire Mireille on three levels.  First, of course, in cuisine.  French Women Don’t Get Fat came out at a time when we were still fighting the battle of the bulge with aspartame.  Her advice to eat with joie de vivre and sensibility, with an ear to one’s own body to feel bien dans sa peau was a liberation.  Second, professionally.  She is the former CEO of Veuve Cliquot, and as a businesswoman by day myself, I can’t help but admire the grace and savoir faire that she brings to business.  And third, in love.  The way she talks about her American husband after decades of marriage is an inspiration to us young marrieds everywhere.  I think in Mirielle I have always found that same marriage of France and America that has colored my entire life—that I find familiar and wonderful and, frankly, aspirational.

The entire slip of a book is devoted to the oyster, and quite like the oyster itself, it is joyful, winning, and over too quickly, while leaving the consumer better off after than before.  The book is told predominantly through stories of those who consume them—most notably Régis, owner of Huîterie Régis in Saint-Germain in Paris, and Mireille herself.  It is an unusual perspective, but on reflection, just right—how else does one grow to know and love a food than through those who already know and love it?  It is the enthusiasm that these gastronomes—these evangelists—bring to cuisine that gets us to try—and love—such improbable delights as raw oysters.

Mireille, ever a beloved teacher, shares recipes (not all raw!), wine pairings, nutritional breakdowns, lessons in varieties, and even a list of the best places to eat oysters—many of which, I was delighted to find, I had visited, including the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station in New York and J. Sheekey Oyster Bar in London, a personal favorite after my many years there with Mr. English.  So, you leave the book knowing how to eat oysters—in two ways.  You can order the right variety in the right place at the right time of year and with the right wine.  But you can also order them with celebration, with love, and above all, with a sense of fun, adventure, and anticipation.

One of my favorite parts of the book is devoted to oyster virgins—that moment when you go from being a person who has never tasted a raw oyster to one who has.  Irreversible.  Irrevocable.  My first time was at the Union Oyster House in Boston, being cheered on by a group of my friends, a regular group of old men seated at the bar, and the oyster shucker himself as the briny little pearl slid down my tongue to my throat.  I smiled.  It was, like most irreversible things, nothing like I had imagined.

From then, it has been as Mireille says.  Oysters are for celebrations.  I have eaten them at La Closerie des Lilas in Paris, Hemingway-style.  In New Orleans, fried and stuffed in improbable numbers into a Brobdingnagian po’ boy.  At a wedding in San Antonio, perched on nachos.  Each winter at my family’s holiday dinner, when my father and I share a frosty dozen at the same classic New York restaurant.  I remember each and every time.  Each time, a fête.  It’s the sharing, the lingering, the specialness—the strangeness—that makes them, as Mireille concludes, délicieuses.

In honor of her appearance here, I have the privilege to give away two free copies of her new book, Meet Paris Oyster.  Thank you, Grand Central Publishing, for providing the books.  And thank you, Mireille, for taking the time to answer my questions.

Here’s how to enter.  On Facebook, post on the French Revolution page with a memory of the first time you ate an oyster—please like the page if you do!  And on Instagram, post your favorite oyster moment.  Please tag all posts #mireillegiveaway, #frenchrevolutionfood, and @kerrysaretsky.  And do be sure to check out Instagram, as I post most of my food photos there.  I will choose one entry from Facebook and one entry from Instagram next Monday, November 10.  I will announce the winners on Facebook and Instagram.  US only, please, unfortunately!  Good luck, thanks for being a part of it, and you’ll love the book!  Over to Mireille…

Mireille GuilianoAn Interview with Mireille Guiliano

Interview

Kerry Saretsky: Why oysters?

Mireille Guiliano: At least for two compelling reasons: because they give us pleasure and are nutritional powerhouses.

KS: What is the best way to appreciate food?

MG: Eat with all your senses.  Most people eat mindlessly multitasking not sitting / chewing / resting between bites…and get fat.

KS: Where do we need to eat in New York and in Paris?

MG: I have not spent much time in New York this year but still love ABC Kitchen, Upstate, Bar Boulud, Basta Pasta, 15E15, Gotham Bar and Grill, Millésime, Nomad.

For Paris: see http://frenchwomendontgetfat.com/content/where-should-eat-paris.

KS: How do we age gracefully?

MG: Don’t like this term at all. I prefer aging with attitude which is about taking a new mindset facing and accepting reality.  Grace is the stuff of a young ballet dancer and for people who believe in eternal youth.

KS: What is the secret to a long and loving marriage?

MG: For me it is Partnership (the 3 F[s]: friendship / fidelity / faith), a recipe with ingredients like love, respect, trust, generosity, compromise, communications, tenderness, some common values, a sense of humor and a sense of mystery to keep the flame hot and going.

KS: What is the secret to success?

MG: Not a word I like.  Life is about why and how we live, the rest is small stuff.

The Epicurean Proust:

 1.    What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect does not exist, and if it does [it] must be boring.  Happiness is about moments and intensity, it comes and goes and can / should be cultivated like a garden…seeing the glass half filled instead of half empty is a good beginning.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Summer in our “mas” in Provence

13. What is the quality you most like in an oyster?

Transporting me to the seaside

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My friend, lover, husband, poet, man of my life, my “Amérique à moi’’  Edward

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Living life to the fullest into 2014

22. What is your most treasured recipe?

My magical breakfast 

see below!

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

Loving and laughing

35. What is your culinary motto?

Less is more

Mireille Guiliano's Magical Breakfast Redux, from French Women Don't Get Facelifts

In Provence, when I have houseguests, I always include a big bowl of Magical Breakfast Redux on the counter buffet-style, and it keeps fine for twenty minutes. Because of its popularity, I alert my guests that a second bowl is waiting in the fridge, and more often than not, both bowls are empty when breakfast is over. Women, men, and kids all love the stuff.

Serves 1

½ to 2⁄3 cup yogurt (or, if you are in France, faisselle)

1 teaspoon flaxseed oil (olive or other oil works, too)

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons raw old-fashioned oatmeal

2 teaspoons chopped walnuts

1. Place the yogurt in a bowl and add oil. Mix well. Add lemon juice and mix well. Add honey and mix well. (It is important to add each ingredient one at a time and blend well to obtain a homogeneous mixture.)

2. Add the oatmeal and walnuts to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Serve at once.

I can’t help pointing out how amazing this breakfast is because it is complete with balanced carbs, protein, and fats. The honey in it makes it “dessert,” and we know that dessert at breakfast allows for maintaining lower levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates appetite) and sustains higher levels of fullness. Plus, when you eat what you like, you decrease cravings. Lots of people think breakfast is important, but lots of people actually skip it. Surveys show that a good 22 percent of Americans skip breakfast, and among those who eat breakfast, at-home eaters are more likely to have a lower body mass. However, over 40 percent eat fruit and 30 percent eat cold cereal (Cheerios, anyone?) because it is fast. Not the best way to age well. After forty, a complete, what I refer to as “mature,” breakfast is key: the Magical Breakfast Redux is one and is supereasy to make.

Excerpted from FRENCH WOMEN DON’T GET FACELIFTS by Mireille Guiliano. Copyright © 2013 by Mireille Guiliano. Used with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. 

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach and Walnut Pesto, Haricots Verts, and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach and Walnut Pesto, Haricots Verts, and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Whole Wheat Pasta Spinach Pesto Haricots Verts Rosemary PotatoesSince moving back to New York, I have fallen prey to the city.  Working by day; cheap but sensational restaurant food by night.  I grew up in New York eating out every other evening, and old habits die hard (or rather, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for seven years abroad, and am not able to resist!).  But one morning recently Mr. English turned to me and said, “Can we please stay at home and have something healthy tonight?”  He wasn’t born a New York restaurant glutton.

His definition of healthy is his own, but I know it normally means fish or vegetarian, and lots of vegetables.  I agree, but I insist on whole grain.  But no matter whose definition of healthy we’re using, two realities still exist: (1) I have not finished unpacking my kitchen, and (2) I’m too tired after working hard in my new job to make anything other than something quick and easy.

We both fell madly for this pasta.  And for Mr. English that was despite the fact that it was whole wheat.  There is a traditional Italian dish that mixes pasta with pesto and green beans and potatoes.  I had a little fun messing with it.

First, I sliced the potatoes super thin and roasted them with rosemary so the pasta would be studded with almost a savory baked potato chip.  If I had found blue potatoes, it would have been even more fantastic.  Second, I boiled the whole wheat pasta in water flavored with rosemary, to impart a more savory, autumnal flavor than the traditional summer basil pesto.  Third, I cooked the haricots verts right in that rosemary pasta water, to save time and effort.  And finally, I went New Yorker, and went to my supermarket where they sell fantastic fresh pestos.  I bought the spinach and walnut pesto, rather than the usual basil, because it acted more as a vegetable than a sauce, and allowed that fantastic rosemary flavor to permeate the dish without competition.  Plus, it’s cheaper, super-nutritious, and stays wildly green.  If your supermarket doesn’t sell it, use any pesto recipe you like, swapping the basil for baby spinach and the pine nuts for walnuts.

The dish is so vibrantly verdant from the spinach and the haricots verts.  The potatoes add such a welcome crunch.  The rosemary and the heartiness of the whole wheat pasta echoed the fresh coolness in the air.  Perfect perfect perfect.  I can’t wait to make it again.  Bon app!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach and Walnut Pesto, Haricots Verts, and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers)

Whole Wheat Pasta Spinach Pesto Haricots Verts Rosemary PotatoesINGREDIENTS

  • 2 stems of fresh rosemary
  • 7 smallish Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thinly on a mandoline (or use blue potatoes if you can find them!)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound haricots verts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 pound whole wheat short pasta, like campanelle
  • 1 cup spinach-walnut pesto (I buy mine ready made from the refrigerated section of my supermarket)

METHOD

First things first: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add one stem of rosemary to the water.

Place the sliced potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Remove the leaves from the other stem of rosemary, chop, and add to the potatoes along with the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, toss, and roast until golden around the edges—about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Once the rosemary water comes to a boil, cook the haricots verts until just tender, 3-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the green beans.  Remove to a bowl with a spider.

In the same rosemary water, cook the whole wheat pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water before draining.

In the same big pot, toss together the whole wheat pasta, haricots verts, roasted potatoes, and the spinach-walnut pesto.  Moisten with the reserved pasta water if needed.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  You can’t go wrong.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Sticky, Spicy, Sweet: Maille’s Honey Balsamic Dijon Mustard Comes to America

RECIPE: Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Maille Honey Balsamic Dijon Cocktail Sausages with Fresh Herbs

Maille Honey Balsamic Sausages SmallAs I mentioned before, in the last weeks before we left London, we were overwhelmed by packing.  Can we import this?  Should we bother importing this?  I’m very indecisive, so choice is a true torture for me.  Thankfully, the moving company had offered me no choice about one thing.  Don’t pack alcohol, they told us, it could delay your stuff for months.

In London every possible occasion had meant that we became the recipient of some bottle of alcohol.  Bottles of wine from my boss for the holidays.  Bottles of champagne from our engagement.  Even a bottle of Jonny Walker Blue that we inherited for hosting an Opening Ceremony party.  We had them stacked on bookshelves in the kitchen.  And so in the spirit of waste not want not, we had a liquor cabinet party down in the garden of our London apartment one early summer evening.  It was a very plastic-cups affair, everyone showed up, and by midnight, all our beautiful bottles were reduced to recycling.

While I’m not a big drinker (that night I dribbled some crème de pêche I’d picked up in Paris into my sparkling water for my usual almost-virgin Kir Royale), I am a big eater, and the idea of a party without food just isn’t a party for me.  I had some jars of Maille mustard that I also wanted to use up before the move.

I’ve been SAVING this recipe since June until I could announce that finally, my favorite jar of Maille mustard, the Honey Balsamic Dijon, is available in the US.  Maille makes a phenomenal, smooth, spicy honey mustard, and this balsamic version has a bit more sweet-tart complexity from the vinegar.  But my favorite part is its gorgeous near-black color.  A stunner.  I love it in sandwiches, of course, and in vinaigrettes, but I think it is particularly wonderful in marinades and glazes.

Britain makes wonderful sausages, and they even make very gourmet cocktail-sized versions.  I threw together a two-second glaze of Maille Honey Balsamic Dijon mustard, Maille old-fashioned whole grain mustard for texture, honey for sweet glazing thickness and to emphasize the sweetness in the mustard, fresh thyme and rosemary, and salt.  Toss the sausages in the mustards and honey, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and broil, turning once.  It is so easy.  The honey caramelizes and gets sticky, and the mustards stay bright and spicy and slightly acidic.  I threw them all into a bowl with some cocktail sticks and a sprinkling of more fresh herbs, and they were by far everyone’s favorite of the night, gone long before the wine and whisky.

Maille_Honey Dijon with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

You can buy Maille Honey Dijon with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena online.

Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Maille Honey Balsamic Dijon Cocktail Sausages with Fresh Herbs
serves a crowd of 15

Maille Honey Balsamic Sausages SmallINGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 pounds good quality fresh cocktail sausages
  • 1/4 cup Maille Honey Balsamic Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Maille whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs — thyme, rosemary
  • Salt

METHOD

Preheat the broiler and place the oven rack in the top third of the oven.  Pat the sausages dry with paper towel.  In a large bowl, whisk together the other ingredients.  Add the sausages and toss to coat.  Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  (You may want to line the baking sheet with foil first—the honey caramelizes and foil will make cleaning up a lot easier.)  Broil for about 10 minutes, until burnished and crisp.  Shake around and broil another 2 minutes.  Serve hot!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes
 

Berlin’s Borchardt: The Schnitzel to End All Schnitzels

Borchardt Schnitzel 2 Edit

Borchardt’s Schitzel with Chanterelles in Berlin

Life back in New York has begun.  Every minute feels like it needs to be packed with the things that were missed.  Family.  Friends.  New York Times crossword puzzles on the East River.  Half sour pickles.

While cramming in one more New York essential — a trip to Broadway — we were transported back to our summer, blissfully between jobs, in Europe.  As the lights went down in Studio 54 and the disco ball started to glitter on Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in Cabaret, I thought back to the 48 we had spent in Berlin in July.  We stayed at the Soho House, which in that city, I found delightfully unpretentious.  Our room was full of housemade cookies and classical music twinkling out of a 1930s-style radio, and Cowshed products in which I doused myself in the dimly-lit shower.  The bar, too, was quietly populated and the bartender shared his recipe for homemade ginger ale.  I am sworn to secrecy, otherwise I would post it here!

Berlin Collage 2

We only had one night, and we spent it at Borchardt.  The maitre d’ is a French dynamo of a man who spoke to me in French from word one despite the fact that we were in Berlin and we were clearly Anglo-Americans.  I liked that about him.  Berliners populated all the tables, fashionable on a Sunday night.  A news boy (do these still exist?) came by table by table touting tomorrow’s paper, and selling early editions.  Brobdingnagian displays of crimson gladioli stood in urns around the room.  It was a restaurant of banquets—not too fancy, but a determined hint of pomp and class.  And the specialty was schnitzel.

Our waiter was perhaps the kindest, most jovial Berliner in Berlin.  He advised me to order just half the schnitzel—which was good council, as it still hung over the rims of the plate.  You could order it with the traditional potato salad, as Mr. English did, or you could go for the true house special—Schnitzel with Chanterelles.  Which, of course, I did.  I apologize for the darkness of photo, but I still had to post it here, because as a schnitzel fanatic, I attest that this and Figlmuller in Austria were the two best schnitzels I have ever had.  And while Figlmuller feels like a banquet hall, this is a glamorous schnitzel.  The atmosphere, the chanterelles, the Riesling, the flowers.  Thin as a sheet, and with a crust that seems to live apart from the meat inside it, nested with a flurry of tiny mushrooms.

Borchardt Schnitzel 1 Edit

Cabaret, incidentally, was as good as the Borchardt schnitzel and I couldn’t recommend it more.  After the show, I went out and bought my husband a pineapple.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to go and see the show!

To see more from our European adventure, check out my Instagram: @kerrysaretsky!

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Kerry & French Revolution in Food & Home Entertaining South Africa

A HUGE thank you to the team at Food & Home Entertaining in South Africa for profiling me and French Revolution for their all-things-French July issue.  It was such a pleasure, and I can’t thank you enough!  If you’re in SA, be sure to check it out.

Food & Home Entertaining South Africa Profile

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Camembert Fondue-in-a-Box with New Potatoes and Cornichons

RECIPE: Camembert Fondue-in-a-Box

Camembert Fondue in a BoxI feel so lucky.  My favorite weeks of the year are my summer holiday in France, and here I am!  We drove our little rented diesel Peugeot into the medieval town of Issigeac in the Perigord for market day today; then we stopped our car on the way back to the hotel in a field of sunflowers to feast on my finds.  The rain shot down all around us in angry cords, but we were warm and happy as we tucked into my little market bag.  Nothing can take away from the quivering happiness I take in the discussions I have at local French markets.  Mr. English indulges me by parking himself in a nearby cafe with his International New York Times.  Under the drizzle, I spent five full minutes with the tomato dealer debating the sweetness and firmness of a spectrum of tomato specimens.  My olive dealer walked me through his five varieties of tapenades, all with samples, before we settled together on La Melisse, a concoction of both black and green olives that he assured me was ‘faite maison’, or made by him himself.  And I spent considerable time in a frank conversation with the melon guy.  He didn’t want me to be disappointed.  We look forward to our melon de pays each summer, and this was to be our first.  ’They are very sweet,’ he assured me, ‘but if you want to eat it today, well, it’s complicated.’  Only in France could a melon be complicated.

I rounded it off with some tomme de brebis, aged six months, and a really huge baguette.  Mr. English got out the Laguiole pocketknife he bought yesterday in Sarlat for this exact purpose, and set to work on the tomatoes and melon and cheese on the dashboard.  I just started dipping the giant baguette into the tapenade.  The melon juice ran down on fingers.  It was happy.

Issigeac Market Collage

A peek at the Perigord markets…

Tomorrow, for le quatorze juillet, we will be eating duck confit in a little inn on our way to the Midi.  Hopefully, we will catch some fireworks, and be able to squeeze in our traditional annual game of pétanque.  But before I left London, I came up with the perfect recipe for cheats’ Camembert fondue in case you’re having people over for the occasion.  It will also work well as a nation-neutral snack for the big game tonight.

Start with a round of Camembert in a wooden box.  Open up the box and unwrap the cheese, then put the cheese back into the box, and wrap the box all around in aluminum foil.  Put the cheese in a hot oven for half an hour, break through the rind, and voilà, you have a little fondue-in-a-box.  I serve it with boiled or roasted new potatoes, and some little Maille cornichons.  It might sound weird to dip pickles into a cheese fondue, but it’s traditional.  The French always serve something sharp and fresh with things that are rich and heavy—like cornichons with pâté.  And I love it, so I do it too.  Just stack a potato and a cornichon on a little cocktail stick and dip into the molten Camembert.  It’s so good and convivial, and definitely easier than traditional fondue.

Bon app!

Maille_Cornichons_Jar Shot_14 oz

Merci, Maille, for the cornichons! Maille cornichons are available to buy in many supermarkets and online. Click the picture for the link.

Camembert Fondue-in-a-Box
serves 10

Camembert Fondue in a BoxINGREDIENTS

  • 1 250g round of Camembert in a wooden box
  • 2 pounds boiled or roasted baby new potatoes
  • 50 Maille cornichons

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Open the Camembert box, and take the wrapper off the cheese.  Place the cheese back on the box, wrap the box tightly in aluminum foil, and place the box on a small rimmed baking sheet, just to catch any melted cheese that might escape.  Bake for 30 minutes.  At that time, pierce the top rind of the cheese, and the cheese should be runny within.  If not, rewrap the box in the foil, and continue baking until the cheese is molten and dip-able.

Serve with roasted or boiled baby new potatoes, cornichons, and cocktail sticks.  I will either boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, or roast them with olive oil, salt, and fresh thyme in a 400 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian