French Revolution on Marie Claire South Africa!

MarieClaireScreenShot2A big thank you to Marisa and the team at Marie Claire South Africa for the fabulous feature today on MarieClairvoyant.com.  It’s a fun little interview about how I got started in food blogging, French deliciousness, and being a mouse in a cheese shop.  All with lots of pictures, links to my favorite recipes, and my mint tea video.

Thank you so much, Marie Claire, for thinking of this little corner of the Internet.  Thank you to everyone who reads French Rev down in South Africa.  And thanks to all the readers everywhere for making this blog so much fun to write.  Love you all!  Bon app.

http://marieclairvoyant.com/hot-topics/bloggers/a-french-revolution

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How to Make Moroccan Mint Tea

RECIPE: Moroccan Mint Tea

Just like Mémé taught me.

Moroccan Mint Tea
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 60 leaves of fresh mint (about 12 stems or 1 bunch), washed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

PROCEDURE

Pour the water, mint, and sugar into a tea pot.  Muddle with the back end of a wooden spoon.  Let steep 10 minutes.  Pour.  Enjoy!

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Categories: Cheap, Drinks, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian, Virgin, Watch
 

Dinner for Two: Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

RECIPE: Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon
Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

There are three kinds of recipes.  The first are the kind that totally, for lack of a better word, suck.  Fool me once; I never make those again.  The second are the kind that are terrific, but they just feel like a one-off.  An occasion recipe, maybe, for novelty.  And the third are the most rare, and the most wonderful.  The ones that you make, and then make, and then make, and then make again.  For me, this crumbly, mustardly salmon is by far and away the third kind of recipe, so much so that, since my parents are in town, I am making it for them along with my Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons from French in a Flash a few weeks ago.

The concept is simple: salmon and mustard go well together.  I simply lightly butter the bottom of two store-bought fresh salmon fillets (my store makes sure they are skinless and boneless), and sit them in a skillet.  While they get crispy on the bottom, I make a kind of savory crumble of breadcrumbs, two mustards, thyme, and butter.  I pile it on top of the salmon while it’s still in the pan, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.  The salmon finishes cooking, and the crumbs gets crispy and nutty and tangy and spicy from the mustard.  It’s kind of like an easier, lighter, more elegant way of getting crispy fried fish, with a little French flavor and flair.

I serve it on a bed of blanched fine green beans, or next to a salad.  What’s next to it is not important.  It’s just about the salmon, so buttery, so tender, so good, and perfect, and earthy and wholesome, that I just can’t stop making it!  I made it for me and Mr. English, but he was late in getting home, so I took the opportunity to pack it up for lunch the next day, and served him some leftover pasta.  Shh!  I know, it was mean.  But the best food makes me very, very greedy, and very, very selfish.

I’m happy to report it’s just as good cold!

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

Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon
serves 2

Crumbly, Mustardly SalmonINGREDIENTS

  • 2 fillets of salmon, boneless and skinless
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the salmon
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

PROCEDURE

Preheat the broiler.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, mustards, and thyme, pinching the mixture together so the butter is incorporated and the mixture sticks together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the bottom of each fillet of salmon with a thin layer of butter.  Place the salmon in a preheated skillet over medium-high heat that is just large enough to fit the fish.  Sear for 2 minutes, to develop a nice crust on the bottom of the salmon.  Pile the crumbs on the salmon, and transfer to the oven, broiling for 4 to 5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are nicely golden brown.  Serve with haricots verts that have been blanched in salt water, and tossed with a little butter and fresh parsley.

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

French in a Flash: BBQ Coq au Vin

RECIPE: BBQ Coq au Vin
BBQ Coq au Vin

BBQ Coq au Vin

Some people get their kicks running marathons, or knitting, or surfing YouTube for hours a day.  I get mine reinventing classic French recipes.  This one is the fruit of last weekend’s experimentation with turning classic, wintry coq au vin into a summertime barbecue hero.

The flavors of classic coq au vin start with red wine.  Soaking the chicken in the wine all night is the French equivalent to a southern buttermilk bath: it tenderizes the meat, while staining it a gorgeous garnet.  Then, the chicken is seared in bacon fat, with mushrooms and pearl onions, and stewed in wine.  It’s stewy, with everything falling off the bone, and lots of red wine sauce for mixing into your mashed potatoes.  It’s delicious, and completely inappropriate for warm weather. Continue reading

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Categories: Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series
 

Dinner for Two: Crispy Broiled Scallops and Chorizo

RECIPE: Crispy Broiled Scallops and Chorizo
Crispy Broiled Scallops and Chorizo

Crispy Broiled Scallops and Chorizo

I have a serious food crush on seafood with pork.  Here in London, a restaurant called J. Sheekey’s Oyster Bar makes squid and wild boar cassoulet.  My heart stops.  It is literally all I live for.

And while I can’t exactly make cassoulet any ol’ night of the week, much less with wild boar, I can still get that combination of down-home deliciousness and elegance that the combination offers.  Enter, my Crispy Broiled Scallops and Chorizo.

To me, cooking for two means limiting not just my time spent, but also my ingredients.  I don’t want to go out and spend a fortune stocking my cupboard with things I’m only going to use once, and in such a small quantity.  And when cooking with just a few ingredients, it’s important to make each one count, so that the food is exciting and tempting, not boring.

This dish is the perfect example.  I start with scallops, because scallops are sweet and rich and always feel like a treat.  But, the bay scallops are cheaper than the big fancy scallops, and they cook a lot more quickly.  And Spanish chorizo is bang for your buck.  In it, you get the salty meaty flavor of the ham, that gorgeous burnt red smoky flavor of the paprika, and tons of garlic.  And I only had to buy one thing!  Toss the chorizo and scallops together, and automatically the fat and flavor melts out of the chorizo in the oven and bathes and crisps the scallops.  Gorgeous!  I top the whole thing with panko crumbs for crunch and fresh baby greens for something light. Continue reading

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

French in a Flash: Vegetarian Grilled Zucchini Croque Mademoiselle

RECIPE: Chargrilled Zucchini Croque Mademoiselle
Chargrilled Zucchini Croque Mademoiselle

Chargrilled Zucchini Croque Mademoiselle

There’s a place downstairs from my old apartment in Paris called the Horse’s Tavern Café.  It has an inside, but I’ve never seen it.  For me, it’s all about sitting at the tables that tumble forth out of the front door and onto the Carrefour Odéon, and ordering from their ‘Croques‘ menu: a whole list of different melted cheese sandwiches.  I love the one that comes with prosciutto instead of regular Paris ham.  But there’s also three cheese.  And a whole array of different hams.  I’m like a kid in a ham candy store.

But the vegetarian options are limited, and because I spent twelve years as a vegetarian, I wanted to create one as amazing as the traditional Croque Monsieur, and all the other croque options at the Horse’s Tavern.  This version uses chargrilled, herbes de Provence-scented zucchini, for that same smoky ham taste, and that bite of something other than cheese that adds interest to the sandwich.  I sandwich the zucchini between two piles of Emmenthaler and two slices of rustic white sandwich bread, and toast.  Then, I smother the top of the sandwich a with béchamel punched up with Dijon mustard and a fresh scrape of nutmeg, and another blanket of cheese.  Into the broiler to bubble and blister, and you have a big, fork-and-knife, Horse’s Tavern-worthy vegetarian Croque.  Just a little more delicate that the Monsieur, so I call it the Mademoiselle.

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

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Eat, French in a Flash, Paris, Recipes, Restaurants, Sandwiches, Series, Vegetarian, Voyages
 

Dinner for Two: Hot Hot Hot Chipotle Steak Tacos

RECIPE: Fiery Chipotle Soft Tacos with Charred Scallions, Cilantro, and Avocado Cream
Hot Hot Hot Chipotle Steak Tacos

Hot Hot Hot Chipotle Steak Tacos

When cooking for two, and living as two, it’s important to keep the fire alive.  In other words, to keep things hot in the kitchen.

As in, taco night.  Of course.

Traditionally, for me, taco night was one of those completely impractical but absolutely unmissable bimonthly family events.  We had all kinds of incarnations: black bean tacos.  Jumbo shrimp tacos.  Spicy turkey tacos.  But they all had one thing in common: seventeen and a half components each, all made from scratch, and forty-two plates to wash afterwards.  The very thing that makes tacos so perfect for a dozen ravenous friends—the million little bowls brimming with different salsas and toppings and guacamoles—is the very same thing that makes it so fun and amazing, and also so completely and ridiculously impractical for two people.

Until now.  Just because I’ve left my mother’s house and am now living à deux doesn’t mean my love or need for tacos has diminished.  So I set myself the challenge of developing a taco night that’s practical for two.

Here’s the plan: buy an inexpensive flank steak and a can of chipotles in adobo.  Whiz up the contents of the can of chipotles in a mini food processor and instantly it creates this spicy, smoky, savory marinade that you pour all over the steak.  Grill the steak on a hot grill pan right on the stove, along with some fresh green onions (such a great taco combo).  Slice up the charred, hot, crusted steak and the green onions, and pile them into warm corn tortillas along with some simple toppings: finely preshredded cabbage (just buy it like that!), torn leaves of cilantro, a spritz of lime, and a quick mash up of sour cream and avocado to cool things down.  It all happens in one pan, but the flavors and textures are as fun and tantalizing and complex as any hi-falutin’ family taco night out there.  Maybe even a tad more sophisticated, because after all, I am now officially all grown up.

Here’s to keeping the spice in life, and to feeling the heat.

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

Fiery Chipotle Soft Tacos with Charred Scallions, Cilantro, and Avocado Cream
serves 2 (maybe 3)

Hot Hot Hot Chipotle Steak TacosINGREDIENTS

  • 1 7-ounce can of chipotle in adobo
  • 1 1 1/3-pound flank steak
  • Sea salt
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • A handful or two of thinly shredded cabbage (I buy a bag of preshredded cole slaw cabbage)
  • A big handful of torn cilantro leaves
  • 8 5 1/2-inch corn tortillas

PROCEDURE

In a small food processor, blitz all the contents of the can of chipotle in adobo until smooth.  Season the flank steak with salt, and place it in a large plastic baggie with the chipotle puree.  Rub the marinade all over the steak.  Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan over high heat.  Lightly drizzle the grill with oil.  On one side of the grill, place the steak.  On the other side, grill the scallions until soft and charred.  Chop and set aside.  Grill the steak about 8 to 8 1/2 minutes on each side for medium doneness.  Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice.

While the steak rests, blitz together the avocado and sour cream in a small food processor.  Set out the lime, cabbage, and cilantro.  To warm the tortillas, wet a paper towel and wring it out so that it is just damp.  Wrap the stack of tortillas in the damp paper towel and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Wrap in foil to keep warm until you’re ready.

Assemble the tacos as you like: a warm tortilla, a handful of cabbage, some steak, scallions, and cilantro, topped with a spoonful of avocado cream and a spritz of lime juice.

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