Bright Lentil Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Herbs

RECIPE: Bright Lentil Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Herbs
Lentil Salad with Fennel, Apple, and Herbs

Lentil Salad with Fennel, Apple, and Herbs

This is a bright, hearty, and optimistic salad. Admittedly, it’s also a total knock-off of my go-to dish at my favorite French restaurant in London, La Petite Maison, which specializes in taking Provençal peasant food and reinventing it at the height of sophistication. The salad is simple, but unexpected: firm little du Puy lentils, finely diced apple and fennel, some bright herbs (I use Greek basil and fresh thyme), and a very fresh, loose vinaigrette made from olive oil and cider vinegar. It’s nice to know that some of the most basic food—a fruit, a vegetable, and the lowly, humble lentil—can come together in something unexpected and above the ordinary. It’s like a Cinderella salad.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Bright Lentil Salad with Apples, Fennel, and Herbs
serves 4

Lentil Salad with Fennel, Apple, and HerbsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 medium fennel, finely diced
  • 1 apple (recommended: Pink Lady), peeled and finely diced
  • 8 ounces baby plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 14.5-ounces cans of du Puy lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil

PROCEDURE

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until the sugar dissolves.  Add in the olive oil, and whisk until emulsified.  Add the water, and whisk to loosen.  Add the fennel, apple, and tomatoes, toss to combine, and allow to sit in the vinaigrette for 15 minutes.  Finally, add the lentils and fresh herbs, and allow to sit another 15 minutes.  Serve.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

Cheated Paella for Two

RECIPE: Shrimp and Chorizo Lazy Paella
Shrimp and Chorizo Lazy Paella

Shrimp and Chorizo Lazy Paella

Paella is a party dish.  The kind of endeavor you’d only undertake if you plan on feeding at least 10, if not 100, people.

And yet, it’s the perfect after-work comfort food.  Rice, perfumed with all that decadent saffron.  The charred smoky garlickiness of the chorizo.  The elegance of the seafood.  The sweet onions and bright bursting peas.  Everything in one perfect pot.  Elegant and down to earth all at once.

So I set about devising the perfect weeknight paella for two, and it’s so good and easy.  I use boil-in-the-bag rice, although you could use whatever white rice you like.  I sauté together some good dry Spanish chorizo and olive oil, shallots and shrimps, green peas and parsley.  Then I add in the rice and some saffron, and finish it all together in a big pan.  If I’m feeling ambitious, I finish it off under the broiler to get that top layer of rice nice and crisp—like it is at the edges of those big Spanish paella pans.

The result is a hot and hearty dinner, full of sausage and shrimps and rice and green peas, that’s at the same time a bit luxurious and exotic.  And—the best part—everything is already on-hand.  I have my shrimp and peas in the freezer.  My chorizo, rice, and shallots in the pantry.  In fifteen minutes, we have a paella party.

Shrimp and Chorizo Paella Pan

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday!

Shrimp and Chorizo Lazy Paella
serves 2 to 3

Shrimp and Chorizo Lazy PaellaINGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 teaspoon (not packed) saffron
  • 8 1/2 ounces parboiled white rice (preferable cook-in-the-bag rice)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced into thin coins
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

PROCEDURE

Put the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water.  Set aside to steep.  Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package instructions.  Then drain, and set aside.

While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.  Add the chorizo and cook for 1 minute.  Add the shallot and cook for 45 seconds, stirring often.  Add the shrimp, and cook until almost completely pink.  Then add the peas, and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the peas thawed.

Push the shrimp and chorizo to the side of the pan and add the drained rice in the center.  Add the saffron and its water.  Stir the saffron into the rice and cook until the pan is dry.  Then, stir in the shrimp and chorizo and peas from the corners of the pan.  Stir in the parsley and serve!

Optional step: place the paella in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish, and drizzle the top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Place under a hot broiler just until the rice turns slightly crisp.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches
 

Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts

RECIPE: Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts
Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 1

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes

The one thing (among several others) that’s great about planning a wedding in Paris is getting to go there because you “have” to.

We “had” to go down a few weeks ago to administrate our wedding planning, and as such, we “had” to eat.  To keep our energy up, you know.  There’s this great thing about Paris restaurants: copycatting.  I think it comes down to the French insistence on seasonality, but if you see a special in one restaurant, you’ll see it in every restaurant.  A few years ago, in May, there was tomato tartare with fresh anchovies and white asparagus vinaigrette on every menu.  It was remarkable.  And this time, the plat du jour partout was lamb brochettes with thyme and haricots verts.  Skewers of tender medium-rare seared lamb in a thyme and lamb jus with simple steamed French green beans.  The perfect union of light, lean substance and fresh, bright flavors.

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 2

I don’t do knock-offs in most things, but when it comes to French food, well, I’ve made it my raison d’être.  I bought simple lamb loin at the supermarket, cut it into disks, and skewered it.  I seared it simply in very hot olive oil until it had a crust on the outside and a blush on the inside.  I deglazed the pan with some beef stock, and swirled in fresh thyme and a lump of cold butter for the perfect cross between a jus and a gravy.  And alongside: simple French green beans, which never fail to be just the right accessory.

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 3

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts
serves 2 to 3

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 2INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of lamb loin, cut into 1-inch discs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1 teaspoon, cold
  • 11 ounces of haricots verts, trimmed

PROCEDURE

Bring a stockpot of water to the boil.  Preheat a wide skillet on high heat.  Skewer the lamb onto the bamboo skewers, leaving a little space between each piece of lamb, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil to the skillet, and sear the lamb for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side, for a total of 2 to 3 minutes, until medium-rare to medium.

Set the lamb aside to rest.  Meanwhile, add the beef stock and thyme to the hot skillet.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter, and take the sauce off the heat.

To prepare the haricots verts, salt the boiling water.  Blanch the haricots verts for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender.  Drain.  Return to the pot with the remaining teaspoon of butter, and stir to coat.  Serve with the lamb and its thyme sauce.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series
 

Turkey and Porcini Meatballs with Rosemary and Polenta

RECIPE: Turkey and Porcini Meatballs with Rosemary and Polenta
Turkey and Porcini Meatballs on Polenta

Turkey and Porcini Meatballs on Polenta

My meatball addiction knows no bounds.  If made correctly, meatballs are actually so much lighter than MEAT.  Pillowy, more delicate, easier to portion-adjust.  And so versatile and easy to throw together.

This is my “Tuscan-inspired” meatball ragu over polenta.  Rustic and comforting.  Full of the woodsy twang of rosemary and the earthy punch of porcini mushrooms.  And it couldn’t be easier.  Just throw all the meatball ingredients in a bowl–lean turkey, fresh rosemary, dried porcini mushrooms, Pecorino Romano cheese–and gently mix together and form into balls.  Then, the meatballs are simmered in a gussied-up bought tomato sauce, and poured over creamy quick-cooking polenta.  It’s comforting and hearty, but because of the way we cook the polenta and the turkey (as opposed to beef) in the meatballs, it’s actually really light.  I serve it with a big green salad.
From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday! Continue reading
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Categories: 30 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series
 

Seared Tuna with Niçoise Vegetables and Garlic Butter

RECIPE: Seared Tuna with Niçoise Vegetables and Garlic Butter
Tuna with Niçoise Veggies

Tuna with Niçoise Veggies

I was in a meeting the other day at the office, when my friend pulled out a take-out box from the office cafeteria, and excused herself.  “I’m starving,” she said.  “I just need to have some lunch!”

There are some meals at my office cafeteria that I look forward to (veggie dumplings and pickled vegetables is worth scheduling meetings around), but generally, I’m pretty jaded.  Or I was.  Until Issy opened up the paper box to reveal a gorgeous spread: seared tuna steak, new potatoes, green beans, and a lemon wedge.  The perfect summer meal.  Evocative of French seasides with striped umbrellas and big sailboats.  Suddenly, my panini from around the corner began to pale into oozy, woozy insignificance.  I had such overwhelming food envy, that I went home, bought all the ingredients, and recreated it for dinner.

This dish is inspired by a Niçoise salad; but it gets rid of all the salad parts and leaves the essentials.  Fresh tuna, crusted in sea salt and herbes de Provence, seared for just three minutes in olive oil until barely cooked through.  Tender crisp haricots verts.  Creamy baby new potatoes.  Roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine.  All tossed in a garlic- and lemon-infused warm olive oil and butter sauce, littered with shreds of fresh basil and torn parsley.  Served warm, it’s light and bright, but also so flavorful and a little bit decadent from the sauce.  It’s the perfect summer meal.  A real feast, but light enough so that you don’t fall asleep in the afternoon at the office.  You may, however, daydream about places you’d rather be.  St. Tropez.  Cannes.  Antibes.  St. Jean Cap Ferrat.  Some things can’t be helped.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app! Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Gastropub at Home: What I’m Making for the Opening Ceremony

RECIPE: Jamie Oliver's Sausage Rolls

As many of you know, I live in London.  Which means, the Olympics are upon me.  And while I am going for the first time in my life, I couldn’t swing tickets to the Opening Ceremony.  So I’m bringing the party to my little London flat, inviting some friends over to watch what’s going on a few miles from here on the TV, and tucking into my interpretation of some British classics.  No, these are recipes aren’t mine.  But I thought this American transplant to Great Britain might share some valuable insight into the perfect London 2012 menu.

Pea and Mint Pesto Crostini

A fresh, light interpretation of mushy peas, the pub classic.  Only, I think, more sophisticated.  Click here for the recipe.

Mushy Pea and Mint Dip

Mushy Pea and Mint Dip

Sausage Rolls

The British version of the pig in a blanket.  Only, more rustic, and slightly less Mad Men.  Here’s the recipe.

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Stilton and Crackers

Stilton is my favorite British cheese.  I’m serving it with some hearty crackers and celery sticks.

Stilton & Cheddar

Stilton & Cheddar

Elderflower Jell-O with Berries

They are all about elderflower here, and elderflower Jell-O (or “jelly,” as the Brits call it) with berries suspended in it is so popular, you can pick it up in corner delis.  I’m making this version, although I may put blueberries and raspberries on top for a Union Jack meets Stars and Stripes theme.

Elderflower Jelly

Elderflower Jelly

Ale

The Brits love their real ale.  Mr. English recommends Betty Stoggs and Waggle Dance (or, as he says it, “Waggle Dahnce”).  Just serve a great local craft beer, and you’ll be very British.

Jamie Oliver's Sausage Rolls
serves 4

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed but cold
  • 1 egg
  • 12 chipolatas (about 14 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Procedure

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F.  Dust a clean surface with all-purpose flour and unroll the puff pastry.  Cut the pastry lengthwise so that you have two rectangles, each approximately 5 x 14 inches.  Beat the egg in a little bowl, then use a pastry brush to paint the pastry halves.  Line the sausage up so you get six on each half.  Bash 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar (I use a spice grinder) and spindle over.  Finely grate a layer of Parmesan over the sausages.

Fold the pastry over the sausages, then use a fork to quickly crimp the edges together so you end up with two long sausage rolls.  Pain these with the rest of the egg wash, then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.  Drizzle olive oil over the baking sheet, then roughly cut each long roll into ten smaller rolls.  Lay the rolls on the oiled baking sheet and put into the oven on the top shelf for around 15 minutes, or until golden and puffed up.

Excerpted (with some minor modifications from me) from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast

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Categories: Eat, Guides, London, Voyages
 

Veal Milanese in a Flash with Arugula Salad

RECIPE: Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad
Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad

Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad

The summer is tricky.  You’re for something substantial, but you want it to feel light.  Veal Milanese is the perfect dinner.  It’s fast.  It’s hearty.  It’s light.  And it strikes the perfect balance between indulgent and virtuous.  Fried meat, topped with a  salad.  Something for everyone.

Start off with two pieces of veal scaloppini.  You can either ask the butcher in the supermarket to pound it out for you, or, you can picture the face of your arch nemesis (not that you have one) on the meat and do it yourself with a meat mallet or a heavy pot.  Then, do a flash dip of the meat into a beaten egg, and then into a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.  Quickly fry in a sautépan (no need to deep fry and this only takes three minutes), and top with a salad of arugula, tomatoes, and more shaved Parm.  A squirt of lemon, and dinner is served.  It’s so good—sort of like Little Italy, light.

Of course, if you don’t want to use veal, you can definitely substitute.  I prefer pork or turkey, but you could also use chicken.

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday! Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series