Pot de Crème with Palais des Thés’ Chaï Impérial

RECIPE: Rich, Exotic Chocolate - Chai Pot de Crème

Chai Pot de CrèmeI like to listen to the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong station on Pandora while I’m cooking.  There is a classic lightness to it that I find both grounding and energy-giving.  It has also accompanied me through not a few Excel models at the office – a true companion!  Yesterday, as I was whizzing together these little pots de crème, I couldn’t help despairing at the lyrics that floated through the kitchen: the snow is snowing, the wind is blowing, but I will weather the storm…

I cannot weather another storm!

I couldn’t believe it as I looked out my window that the snow really was still snowing, the wind still blowing.  I had braved my little local farmer’s market under an unrelenting dusting of flurries that morning in the hopes of finding seasonal wonders.  I had come back with apples – not spring asparagus or anything else of note – and the still snow paraded steadily past my window.

Chai Pot de CrèmeTimes like this call for pot de crème, or as I affectionately call it, old reliable.  I recently heard pot de crème described on the Cooking Channel as chocolate pudding your mom could never make – or something like that.  It is better than chocolate pudding – so thick you have to tug it off the spoon with your lips; so dense and velvety and intense it’s like staring down the maw of some chocolate demon.  It’s marvelous.  But, it’s also easier to make than chocolate pudding!  And what I love about it is that it’s a pantry classic.  You don’t need Mother Nature to cooperate in any way, and the little chocolate pots of wonder will offer you more comfort on a stormy night than even Ella and Louis.

Imperial Chai - Palais des ThesBecause after this New York winter I am starting to get my usual itch to travel to faraway (read: warmer) places, I spiked my classic dark chocolate pot de crème with a spicy, enveloping loose chai tea sent to me by Palais des Thés (merci!), a French maker of wonderful, approachable whole-ingredient loose tea.  When the spoonful of chocolate first hits your tongue, you taste that bittersweet dark chocolate, and then, after a second, the flavors of ginger, orange, pink peppercorns, cinnamon, and cardamom break through that bitter note to explode in this warm, exotic spiciness.  The chocolate warms your heart, the spices warm your soul, and the whole thing whisks you away to a better place.

Palais des Thés Chaï ImpérialI served it last night at a dinner party in our little Manhattan apartment.  And though the snow was still snowing, the wind still blowing under the streetlights far below, I have my pot de crème – and my friends, and my love, of course – to keep me warm.

Thank you, Palais des Thés for the Chaï Impérial.

I also think this pot de crème would work terrifically well at an Easter lunch or Passover seder.

Bon app!

Rich, Exotic Chocolate - Chai Pot de Crème
serves 4

Chai Pot de CrèmeINGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Palais des Thés Chaï Impérial
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken up
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Small pinch of sea salt

METHOD

In a small saucepot, combine the cream, chai tea, and vanilla extract.  Heat over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of the cream.  Take off the heat, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Add the chocolate, egg yolks, sugar, and salt to a blender.  After the cream and tea have steeped, heat them again together just until bubbles form around the edges (you want the cream warm when you add it to the chocolate so they melt together).  Strain the cream into the blender.  Whiz everything together until smooth and incorporated.

Pour the pot de crème mixture into four small glasses or ramekins, knocking each one gently against the counter to burst any air bubbles.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.  Top with homemade whipped cream to lighten the dense, velvety chocolate.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Chocolate, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Rose Crispy Treats for Valentine’s Weekend

RECIPE: Rose Crispy Treats

Rose Crispy TreatsThis weekend, two of our best friends from London are coming to stay, and for one of them, it’s her first time in America.  I’m making them Bavette aux Échalotes for a double Valentine’s dinner at home, and a bay scallop version of this scallop persillade gratin.  But I wanted something homemade and typically American to greet them when they arrive very late tonight.  I settled on Rice Krispies treats, something that always makes me feel at home because, ironically, my Moroccan grandmother makes the best ones around.

I know they’re not very glamorous.  But in France, they have gorgeous, cloud-fluffy artisanal marshmallows, often flavored with floral waters, like rose or orange blossom.  I thought, can I bring a little bit of that French elegance to down home Rice Krispies treats?  Only one way to find out.

Late last night, long past my bedtime while my bavette was blipping away after three hours of post-work night braising, I stirred a spoonful of rose water into the classic Rice Krispies treats recipe.  I topped off each little square with a candied rose petal, and sprinkled them with white sanding sugar.  Honestly, I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but it was a revelation.  Just that hint of that sweet, grassy essence of rose takes the humble marshmallow from hermetic plastic bag to confiserie.  I am sitting writing this resisting my third crispy, gooey, flowery square of the day.

I know, Rice Krispies and rose water.  Very Franglais.  But hey, that’s me!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Bises…

Rose Crispy Treats
makes 12

Rose Crispy Treats*Adapted from the back of the Rice Krispies box

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 6 cups puffed rice cereal

OPTIONAL

  • 1 drop of red or pink food coloring
  • Pink sanding sugar
  • Candied rose petals

METHOD

In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the marshmallows and stir until melted through.  Take off the heat, and stir in the rose water.  If using food coloring, add now.  Finally, stir in the puffed rice cereal.  Spread into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray a piece of parchment slightly larger than 13 inches long with cooking spray.  Spray-side down, lay the parchment on the rice and marshmallow mixture, and push down gently until you have a compact, even layer.  Remove the parchment and decorate with sanding sugar or candied rose petals if using.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before slicing into 12 squares.

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Homey Crème Fraîche Baked Chicken

RECIPE: Homey Crème Fraîche Baked Chicken

Creme Fraiche Baked Chicken

Poor Mr. English.  He always asks me, what’s the point of marrying a girl that you can take-out-of-New-York-but-you-can’t-take-New-York-out-of-the-girl if she won’t make you chicken soup?

I’m chicken intolerant.  It’s not something I often confess in foodie circles, but it’s true.  To me, fried chicken is like ice cream to a lactose intolerant.  So unutterably irresistible, and so not worth the agony.

So the chicken recipes on this site are anytime Valentines to my husband.  I have a bite, maybe two, to assess my work, down a glass of seltzer, and pass it over to him.  Usually, I stare at him while he eats it.  Ask him over and over again what he thinks.  I eat vicariously, and he, bless him, is as tolerant of me as I am intolerant of the chicken.

I am particularly pleased with this Valentine: bone-in chicken marinated overnight in crème fraîche, woodsy herbs, shallots, and garlic.  The rosemary, thyme, shallot, and garlic permeate the crème fraîche and eventually the chicken.  And the crème fraîche, like buttermilk, tenderizes the chicken so it is soft, juicy beyond belief.  The crème fraîche on the skin causes it to bubble up, char, and blister.  But the inside remains pale, perfumed, and perfect.  I serve it with green salad, baguette.  It’s homey.

Because if you’re married to a food blogger, you eat your Valentine’s dinner at 11 AM the weekend before (perfect lighting, perfect timing), I already stared at him, asked him what he thought, and ate vicariously through him.  I have to say, I never feel more like a wife than when I am roasting chicken for my husband.  Maybe it’s because of the level of sacrifice in it for me.  After all, at least half the joy of cooking is the payoff of eating.  Maybe it’s because it’s my own extreme version of Engagement Chicken.  Maybe there’s just something primal-ly, traditionally devoted about roasting one’s man a chicken.  I don’t know.  But he smiled, and I smiled, and I thought, I am lucky to have someone to love so much that I would make him this homey chicken.

Maybe next year I’ll cave and make him chicken soup.

Bon app!

Creme Fraiche Chicken Legs - Marinade

Homey Crème Fraîche Baked Chicken
serves 4

Creme Fraiche Baked ChickenINGREDIENTS

  • 4 whole chicken legs or chicken breasts, skin-on and bone-in
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of crème fraîche
  • 1 large shallot, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, barely chopped
  • The leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

METHOD

Salt and pepper all sides of the chicken.  In a baking dish that will hold the chicken in a single layer, toss together the crème fraîche, shallot, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and season the marinade with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and toss, making sure the crème fraîche gets all over every bit of the chicken.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.  Turn the chicken over in the marinade once last time to coat thoroughly, and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 30 minutes (a little longer if using chicken breasts) until the internal temperature is 150 F.  Then crank up the oven to 500 F and bake until the skin puffs up and turns golden brown, about 5 more minutes.  Serve with a light green salad and baguette.

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Categories: Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes
 

Bonafide Heirloom Carrot, Carrot, and Chive Slaw

RECIPE: Bonafide Heirloom Carrot, Carrot, and Chive Slaw

Carrot Fennel Chive SlawI am devoted to slaw.  If it’s on a menu, I order it.  And I make it constantly, in huge batches, and use it to stuff tacos, to top burgers, as a salad bed under steak or pork or grilled fish.  It’s so lively.  The crunch.  The mixture of all those different things, getting along, being better than the sum of their parts.  And while I adore cabbage (I mean, I really ADORE it), slaw isn’t just for cabbage anymore.

I was at the supermarket Monday night, thinking to take something healthy with me to the office for lunch, when I saw a bag of pre-shredded rainbow heirloom carrots.  It felt very Brooklyn meets the Upper East Side, so I snapped it up.  It was destined for a slaw.  So I bought a giant fennel and some chives that I would cut in long spears to round out the vegetables.  Then I tossed it with my simple slaw dressing that I always use: lemon juice and zest tossed with olive oil and mayo.  And because I like doing things a bit vegan now and again, I went for Vegenaise to be extra virtuous.

It’s such a becoming slaw, with all its paleness punctuated by the bright shards of carrots.  It’s the perfect match of crunchiness and that slight wilt that lemon juice gives.  It’s just terrific.  I hope you try it!

Carrot Fennel Chive Slaw CollageBon app!

Bonafide Heirloom Carrot, Carrot, and Chive Slaw
serves 4 to 8, depending on how you use it

Carrot Fennel Chive SlawINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or Vegenaise for a vegan version
  • The juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10-ounce bag shredded carrots, preferably rainbow heirloom carrots
  • 1 large fennel, shaved on a mandoline, fronds chopped and reserved
  • ½ bunch chives, cut into 1 ½ – inch pieces

PROCEDURE

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mayonnaise or Vegenaise, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper until smooth.  Then toss in the carrots, fennel and fronds, and chives.  Toss thoroughly to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour, and up to overnight, before serving.  You could serve right away, but letting the fennel and carrots sit in the lemon juice and salt helps to extract some of the vegetables’ juices and wilt just enough of the crunch out to make it the perfect slaw texture.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Soup & Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Greek Turkey Meatballs with Chobani Jalapeño and Mint Tzatziki

RECIPE: Greek Turkey Meatballs with Chobani Jalapeño and Mint Tzatziki

Chobani Turkey Meatballs and TzatzikiI am a really bad eater of breakfast.  I just don’t really like breakfast food.  So when I say that I eat anything with consistency before noon, it’s a big statement.  I have been a devotee of Chobani for about a year and a half.  It started when I had a bug and couldn’t eat anything.  The doctor recommended yogurt and the blended Chobani flavors appealed enough to give me a bit of appetite.  Later and back in London, I would stop in the little Tesco’s on my way to work in Hammersmith and pick up a blood orange Chobani.  I liked its consistency with my life back in New York, and I also loved the pulpy blood orange tang.  And now that I’m back stateside, I raid Fairway’s shelves for limited batch pumpkin spice Chobani.  I stir in my salty Early Bird granola and it’s a breakfast I actually eat.  In fact, I had it this morning!

So when Chobani told me about their #MadeWithChobani project, I figured I owed them for being one of my few suppliers for the most important meal of the day.

The truth is, in addition to little flavored pots for breakfast, I love using Greek yogurt in savory recipes.  I use it as a substitute for sour cream, crème fraiche, and mayonnaise in so many dishes.  You get the benefit of less fat and less cholesterol, plus healthy bacteria for your digestive system.  I mix in mashed avocado and lime juice and dollop on tacos.  I stir in horseradish or herbs and smear on sandwiches.  I use it to finish soups.  It’s a really basic ingredient that I always have on hand.

Chobani CollageHere I use it to make a twist on a classic tzatziki, a Greek sauce my cousin in Montreal made for me when I was sixteen, and I have been hooked ever since.  Traditionally, tzatziki is made from yogurt, cucumber, and garlic, and it’s the perfect dip for stacks of warm grilled pitas.  But Chobani did as for unique and healthy, so here’s my spin.  I make a cool – hot version by adding jalapenos, fresh mint, and Meyer lemon to the traditional tzatziki.  I spoon it onto a bed of lemon-marinated baby kale, and top it with my Greak turkey mini meat balls, stuffed with oregano, mint, dill, parsley, and garlic, and made tender with whole wheat couscous.  It’s a great light dinner, but today, I ate it for lunch al desko.

So that’s my #MadeWithChobani recipe.  Savory, light, hopefully a little different—and really, really easy and good.

Chobani Pumpkin

Greek Turkey Meatballs with Chobani Jalapeño and Mint Tzatziki
serves 4

Chobani Turkey Meatballs and TzatzikiMeatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat couscous
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped of each: oregano, dill, parsley, mint
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1-2 gloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until just combined.  Use a small ice cream scoop to place uniform meatballs onto a baking sheet.  Bake until golden and cooked through, 25 – 30 minutes.

Tzatziki

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 chopped chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt
  • 1 Persian cucumber

METHOD

Place all the ingredients except the cucumber in a small cucumber and whiz until completely blended.  Finely grate the cucumber onto a few layers of paper towel.  Wring out all the moisture and stir into the tzatziki.

To serve, arrange a bed of baby kale tossed with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil.  Top with some tzatziki and nestle the turkey meatballs on top.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes
 

A Franglais Thanksgiving: Spiced Apple Cider Granita

RECIPE: Spiced Apple Cider Granita

Spiced Cider GranitaMy favorite dessert in the world is granita.  I seek it out, almost obsessively.  Gelupo, in my ex-hometown of London, makes the second greatest granita in the world in fabulous flavors.  My favorite is rose topped with vanilla whipped cream, but their mint, bergamot, and blood orange come in close behind.  The absolute best granita I’ve ever had was at Da Alfredo in Salina, just off Sicily, during my honeymoon.  We had to boat up to the tiny town to taste this famous granita, made with lemons so fresh, they don’t even bother to remove the seeds.  I was so enthusiastic that I bought my two favorite Sicilian flavors, lemon AND almond, and spooned them down, one bright and tart, one rich and toasty, on the deck of the boat rocking in the harbor.  It’s one of my favorite memories.

As I wrote earlier this week, my pumpkin pie fetish doesn’t always please all my relatives, whose palates just don’t go for pumpkin pie–even with my fresh maple whipped cream.  And that’s fine–more for my midnight snack.  But I do like to please them, and they love apples.  Plus, I think it’s a great idea to bring something light to the Thanksgiving dessert spread.  Hence, my spiced apple cider granita.  Chances are, today you have some spiced apple cider in the fridge.  I like to hurry my granita along by pouring the cider into my ice cream machine.  You don’t need to add anything else.  Get it nice and iced, and then spoon it into a glass baking dish.  Freeze for an hour, and use a fork to scrape the surface into crystals.  Freeze another hour, and repeat.  Keep frozen until your ready to serve.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I wish you all the best, and bon app!

Spiced Apple Cider Granita
serves 8

Spiced Cider GranitaINGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups cold spiced apple cider

METHOD

Pour the apple cider into an ice cream maker and run until nearly frozen.  Spoon into a glass baking dish, and freeze for 1 hour.  Use a fork to scrape the frozen cider into crystals.  Freeze another hour, and repeat.  Serve straight from the freezer!

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Categories: Cheap, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Frozen, Fruit, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

A Franglais Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, and Hazelnuts

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, and Hazelnuts

Sweet Potato GnocchiEvery year–every year as long as I can remember–we have had potatoes au gratin for Thanksgiving.  And I love them.  As a kid, they were my favorite main course, and I still think they are just about the greatest thing on a cold winter night.  But this was my first Thanksgiving in my own apartment, cooking for my family, back in New York, and a trip down the pasta aisle in Fairway made me want to try something different.  Sweet potato gnocchi–such a cool find!

My family protested.  Outcry and gasps over the phone from my mother.  Snide comments from my husband.  I think my father may even have suggested we try BOTH.  But I had stashed the little golden gnocchi in the freezer, and I was not going to be dissuaded.

We had our Thanksgiving earlier this weekend, as we won’t be with the French-American side of the family on Thursday.  It was in the face of severe skepticism that I boiled my sweet potato pillows, brown my butter, crisped my sage, and crushed my hazelnuts.  Even I wondered as I brought the dish to the table whether experimentation on Thanksgiving was really worth it.

It was.  The brown butter is nutty.  The gnocchi are sweet.  The sage is mossy and vegetal.  The hazelnuts and butter give it almost a pecan pie feel, and the texture is hearty.

On Sunday, for leftovers lunch, EVERYONE asked for the gnocchi.  So there.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage, and Hazelnuts
serves 8

Sweet Potato GnocchiINGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds sweet potato gnocchi
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 whole sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • Sea salt

METHOD

Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water according to package directions.

While the gnocchi cook, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.  The butter will begin to foam.  While the butter foams, add the sage.  Cook until the foam subsides and the butter solids turn a nutty golden color.  Remove from the heat.  Add the drained gnocchi, the hazelnuts, and sea salt, and toss.  Serve immediately.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian