Paris Knock-Off Fresh Tuna Tartare with Tomato and Basil

RECIPE: Tuna, Tomato, and Basil Tartare
Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

I had this dish in Paris last summer, and I had to knock it off.  The French are really into seafood tartares.  I just had a salmon version last weekend.  But they are generally the same: a bit of shallot, some dill, maybe some parsley.  A squirt of lemon.

And then I had this one, almost Provençal in its flavors.  Sweet basil.  Bright tomatoes.  And fresh tuna.  Tossed in olive oil and sea salt.  So good!  And it couldn’t be easier.  Just blitz together the basil, tomato, shallot, and tuna, then season with salt, olive oil, and a splash of wine vinegar.  I serve it with toasted baguette rounds.  So simple, and light, and honest, and good.

Paris, je t’aime!

Tuna Tomato Basil Tartare

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

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, Fish, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Individual, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Fresh Rigatoni and Steak “Bolognese”

RECIPE: Fresh Rigatoni and Steak "Bolognese"

Steak Bolognese RigatoniI love, love, love a hearty rigatoni Bolognese.  Not a soupy tomato sauce, but a thick ragu that sticks to your ribs, with meat that you have to scrape off the bottom of your plate and onto your fork and into your mouth because it’s THAT good.  It’s perfect for ‘mixed company’: it’s the kind of food that men expect and exist off of, and the kind of food that women secretly hope they’ll have no excuse not to eat.

This recipe is my slightly more elegant, definitely easier, rather summery Rigatoni with Steak “Bolognese.”  I start with a piece of filet, instead of ground beef, salted and peppered and forgotten in the oven for around 15 minutes.  While it’s cooking, I blitz some carrots, onions, and garlic, and sweat them in a pan before adding a jar of my favorite marinara sauce from the store.  The vegetables add that chunky Bolognese texture to the sauce, while adding the freshness that anything out of a jar by definition lacks.  At the last minute, I boil some fresh rigatoni, which only takes four minutes.  Toss the pasta with the doctored-up sauce, and slice the steak super thin.  The meat is so tender it comes apart like a steak Bolognese.  I think I’m going to make this again tomorrow.

Sliced Beef Filet

Who can say no?

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

Fresh Rigatoni and Steak "Bolognese"
serves 2 with leftovers

Steak Bolognese RigatoniINGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounce piece of beef tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups excellent jarred tomato and basil or marinara sauce
  • 1 pound fresh rigatoni or pennoni pasta (or use dried pasta in a pinch)
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano to taste

PROCEDURE

Position the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Once the oven is hot and the water is boiling, you’re ready to cook.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.  Place the beef on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 130°F.  Depending on which end of the tenderloin you bought, it will take between 10 and 20 minutes.  Remove the steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest while you make the rest of the dish.

Put the carrot, yellow onion, and garlic in the food processor and pulse 20 times.  Scrape down the sides, and pulse another 20 times.  If you don’t have a food processor, use a box grater to get a similar consistency.

In a wide, high-sided sautépan over medium heat, add the olive oil.  When the oil shimmers, add the finely chopped or grated veggies and the thyme.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and fragrant, stirring often, for about 8 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and ½ cup of water.  Once the sauce comes to a bubble, cover it, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Five minutes before the sauce has finished cooking, and a handful of salt to the boiling pasta water and add in the rigatoni.  Cook until tender, but not mushy, and drain.  Add the pasta to the sauce, and keeping the pot still over low heat, gently toss the pasta and sauce together until most of the sauce is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is nearly dry.

Pour the pasta out into a serving dish, and top with grated Parmesan.  Thinly slice the steak, and arrange it over the top.  Voila!  A super-easy, high-class take on Bolognese.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches
 

Pictures from France
(Who Are We Kidding: What We Ate)

Family near Menton

Near Menton…

I have been exceptionally lucky this summer.  Living in London means that I’m always a two-and-a-half-hour train ride straight to the heart of Paris.  Diana Vreeland said that ‘the best thing about London is Paris.’  Dare I say she is right?

Aside from my proximity, I was in France for a number of occasions.  First, in Normany for my godson’s baptism.  Then, the annual family stay in Provence.  And most recently, a trip to Paris to plan my wedding there to Mr. English.  I know, it’s not fair.  I’m jealous of myself.  The point is, I don’t feel right about it unless I share the wealth.  I’m always posting my own French-inspired recipes.  But where do I get the inspiration?  From the pictures I take when I’m in la patrie.  In honor of France’s big fête today, I think we all deserve a little bit of French food ogling.  Consider this post book one in food writing’s Fifty Shades.

Normandy

Trouville Moules à la Crème

Trouville: Moules à la Crème
You should have seen how many frites came along with!
Try this.

Trouville Bavette with Shallots

Trouville: Bavette with Shallots (that’s flank steak, to us). What a classic!

Trouville Cidre de Normandie

Trouville: Cidre Buché
I never leave Normandy without a few big gulps of their dry hard apple cider.
No one likes it but me, so I get the bottle for myself.
Try this (I love this!).

Provence

Aix Veggie Lasagna

Aix-en-Provence: Provençal Vegetable Lasagna
My mom’s favorite meal in my favorite town.
Also the inspiration behind my Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna.

Cassis Niçoise Salad

Cassis: Niçoise Salad
Just off the plane in our favorite seaside nook, I have to order a classic Niçoise.
Mr. English and I fight over which part is best.
It’s obviously the haricots verts. What’s he playing at?
Try this, this, or this.

La Ciotat Zucchini and Zucchini Flower Beignets

La Ciotat: Zucchini and Zucchini Flower Beignets
I eat these every summer. Batter fried and delicious.
Try these or this.

La Ciotat Tapenade

La Ciotat: Tapenade
We went to a cool restaurant built on the site of the old shipyard.
Provence without tapenade is like clocks without time.
It just doesn’t make sense.
Try this, this, this, this, or this.

La Ciotat Steak Frites

La Ciotat: Steak Frites
Mr. English ordered this exquisite filet au poivre.
I stole most of his frites. Couldn’t be helped.
Try this.

La Ciotat Sea Bass with Ratatouille

La Ciotat: Fresh Grilled Sea Bass with Ratatouille
I split the whole beast, fresh from the Mediterranean, with my mom.
Sea bass is my absolute favorite. The ratatouille was deeply caramelized.
Try this or this.

La Ciotat Olives, Kerry, Maman

La Ciotat: Maman and I hunt for olives
There is nothing like a Provençal market.
We ate these olives every night before dinner with a bottle of rosé.
Definitely try this. It’s a family classic.

Cassis Seared Tuna Tartare

Cassis: Seared Tuna Tartare at Nino
I took everyone out to Nino our last night there.

Cassis Steak with Morilles

Cassis: Steak with Morilles
This was delicious.
The shallot on the left roasted whole in its skin was the biggest surprise.

Cassis Sea Bream with Truffled Risotto

Cassis: Sea Bream with Truffled Risotto
Also at Nino. The BEST risotto.

Paris

Paris Salmon Tartare

Paris: Salmon Tartare
Pre-wedding planning lunch in St. Germain.
HERS

Paris Steak Frites Red Wine Sauce

Paris: Steak Frites with Red Wine Sauce
HIS

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Categories: Côte d'Azur, Guides, Paris, Provence, Voyages
 

Bastille Day 2012, Chez Nous

Bastille Day Picnic

Oak smoked ham; Wyfe of Bath cheese; Maille cornichons; beefsteak tomatoes with Maldon sea salt, olive oil, and Greek basil; honeydew melon; blueberries; baguette from Le Pain Quotidien

I have one Bastille Day tradition: pétanque!  I love it, not so secretly because it’s the only ‘sport’ in which I can actually perform.  (Embarrassing fact: I was number two on my MBA pétanque team…shh!).  I measure my Bastille Days in pétanque.  One year, it was on the gravel in Madison Square Park in New York.  Another, in the sand on the beach in Florida.  Sometimes, in Place Dauphine at dusk in Paris.  And others, under the trees in the squares in St. Tropez.  And one horrific day with Mr. English in Oxford, when he came from behind and gained 11 points straight to humiliate me.  Today, I’m home in London.  And as usual in this gray city, it’s raining.  Yet again.  I woke up, thinking I was going to post all about our English garden pétanque game, and the baked Camembert in filo that I was going to make and bring outside.  Not so much.  But I have to say, the day is shaping up better than I expected.

Pétanque at HomeWe have taken out the pétanque set, and are playing on the carpet in our apartment.  And instead of hiking up to the supermarket for Camembert and layering filo, I made a cold lunch, similar to the lunches and dinners we have in France in the summers: cheese, ham, cornichons (Maille, squirreled back from Monoprix on the Eurostar a couple of weeks ago like precious cargo), melon, and ripe, ripe tomatoes.  For the first time in at least a season, I haven’t changed out of my pajamas at 3 in the afternoon.  I think I’ve determined the true, maybe even the best, definition of liberté: being utterly, incorrigibly lazy.

No, it’s not an explosion of macaron-hued fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.  But as far as my pétanque game is going, and as far as Bastille Days, I think this one is going to work out just fine.

Happy Quatorze!

Bastille Day Picnic, Second View

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Kir Royale Sangria: Perfect for Bastille Day

RECIPE: Kir Royale Sangria
Kir Royale Sangria Tall

Kir Royale Sangria

There are drinks you make in glasses, and drinks you make in pitchers.  The drinks in the pitchers are the party drinks.  This Saturday is Bastille Day, and it is a day for parties.  Of course, being American, it’s a cheeky holiday.  Not one that is always observed, so the stolen Bastille Days that are accidentally celebrated are that much more fabulous.  The can-can dancing on the bar at Florent in the Meatpacking District before it closed.  The explosions of pastel fireworks by the Eiffel Tower from the Pont des Arts in Paris.  Or a lazy, boozy pétanque picnic with Mr. English.  July 14th.  It’s a day that deserves a pitcher of something bubbly, delicious, and ever so slightly intoxicating—just like France.

On Saturday, I am making a pitcher of my proprietary concoction: Kir Royale Sangria, along with a roasted garlic Camembert en croûte for another pétanque picnic.  The Kir Royale Sangria, of course, takes it inspiration from the Kir Royale, a glass of champagne stained with a shot of crème de cassis.  In this version, I stir together a bottle of rosé champagne, a spoonful of sugar, a hefty glug of crème de cassis, and a glass of sparkling water.  The finishing touch is frozen berries.  In Europe, if you buy mixed frozen berries, you’ll get strawberries, blackberries, and red and black currants, which pair perfectly with the cassis.  But American mixed berries will work perfectly well to.  They add sweetness, body, and double as ice cubes.  The sangria is fresh, bubbly, sweet and dry at once, and full of life.  Chin-chin.  To a wonderful fête.  Vive la France!

Kir Royale Sangria

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

Kir Royale Sangria
serves 4

Kir Royale SangriaINGREDIENTS

  • 1 75-cL bottle of rosé Champagne, ice cold
  • ¾ cup crème de Cassis
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries, straight from the freezer

PROCEDURE

Stir everything together in a big pitcher and pour away.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cocktails, Drinks, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
 

Tandoori Charred Salmon and Vegetables

RECIPE: Tandoori Charred Salmon and Vegetables

Tandoori Salmon with Broccoli Zoom

I feel like this is a very Rachael Ray, 30 Minute Meals concept, but I love making takeout food at home.  Thai.  Chinese.  Indian.  But if I’m making it at home, I don’t want it to just be as fast as takeout.  I want it to be just as easy.  That means not a lot of ingredients, and not a lot of standing over a hot wok making things happen.

Here in London, takeout means Indian, and there’s nothing on the menu I love more than Tandoori fish.  Marinated in yogurt and spices, seared in a clay pot, it’s heady with spices, light, and just different from anything else.  Problem is, it’s also the most expensive thing on the menu.

Recreating it at home is astonishingly easy—and cheap.  I make a ridiculously simple marinade of plain yogurt, Garam Masala, and fresh ginger, garlic, and chili.  I don’t even chop anything; I just use a grater.  Garam Masala is one of those spice blends I keep on hand, along with Ras el Hanout and Five Spice.  At the risk of sounding uncouth, I buy a bottle of one of these iconic international spice blends, and in one simple purchase, I can make anything taste Indian, or Moroccan, or Chinese, without having to buy a whole shelf’s worth of spices and measuring out little quarter teaspoons every time I want to make this tandoori salmon.  I put two salmon fillets in the marinade, along with a whole bunch of asparagus.  It all marinates in the fridge for just 15 minutes, and then I sear them both simultaneously on a hot grill pan.  If you don’t have a grill pan, try them under a hot broiler.

Tandoori Salmon with BroccoliWhile the salmon is cooking, I make basmati rice.  To recreate the take out ease, I use, unapologetically I might add, boil-in-a-bag basmati, because it comes out fluffy and is perfectly portioned for two.  Then, I tear some cilantro over the top of the fish if I want to get fancy, and may even throw a half lemon on the grill to squirt over the top.  This meal is different enough to be exciting, and easy and cheap enough to prevent dialing up the greasy spoon around the corner.  Mr. English loved and so did I, so it’s working couple approved.  I will definitely be making it again.  Bon app!

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

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

How to Feed the Fourth: A Round-Up of Easy, Delicious, and Maybe-a-Little-Bit-French Recipes for Independence Day

I look forward to the 4th of July all year.  It is, precisely, my second favorite holiday (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s).  When we are in Florida, we bring a picnic to the beach, and sit in the hot sand, and watch the fireworks explode over the ocean.  Nothing is more American than that.

As I’m now a Londoner, I’ll be at work tomorrow, but please do grant me a wish and have some fun on my behalf!  If you happen to be having a party, and I hope you are, and are looking for some gastronomic inspiration, look no further.  Here is my vicarious cooking wish list for tomorrow.  Bon app!  Enjoy those fireworks for me!

Follow the links in blue for recipes…

Dips for Chips

Spinach Artichoke Boursin Dip

Spinach and Artichoke Boursin Dip

Creamy Hot Spinach and Artichoke Boursin Dip

Seriously Good Chunky Seared Tuna and Avocado Dip

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

Holy Smokes Chipotle Guacamole

French Onion Shallot Dip

French “Onion” Caramelized Shallot Dip

French “Onion” Caramelized Shallot Dip

Avocado and Goat Cheese Dip with Root Veggie Chips

Snacks

Curried Sweet Potato Chips

Curried Sweet Potato Chips

Curried Sweet Potato Chips

Hot Dog Vol au Vent

Fried Cornichons

Southern Fried Cornichons

Southern Fried Cornichons

Sandwiches & Tacos

Niçoise Tuna Melts

Niçoise Tuna Melts

Niçoise Tuna Melts

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches with Avocado, Tomato, and Tarragon

Chipotle Steak Tacos

Fiery Chipotle Steak Tacos

Fiery Chipotle Steak Soft Tacos

Smoky Guacamole and Black Bean Tacos

Meats

Apricot and Rosemary Oven Ribs

Apricot and Rosemary Oven Ribs

Apricot and Rosemary Oven Ribs

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

Black & Bleu: Black Pepper Steak with Creamy Blue Cheese

Fresh Herbes de Provence Grilled Steak Tenderloin

Salads

Campanelle Pasta Salad

Campanelle Pasta Salad

Smoky, Fresh Campanelle with Eggplant Caviar Pasta Salad

Chipotle Slaw

Chipotle Slaw

Red Hot Chipotle Slaw

Simple Carrot and Celeriac Slaw

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fleur de Sel

Drinks

Vanilla Tea

Vanilla Tea

Sweet Vanilla Iced Black Tea

Sweets

Sweet and Salty Maple Popcorn and Peanuts

Marmalade and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Marmalade and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Marmalade and Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

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Categories: Guides