Double-Pea Lunch

RECIPE: Warm Pea Shoot Salad and Smashed Peas on Toast

Peas Two WaysIt’s a bank holiday here in London–also known as Monday off.  It’s so like the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks.  You know it’s coming, but that still doesn’t take away from the surprising sense of cherish you have for it.  The sun is shining, I’m just back from yoga, and I feel like something virtuous but interesting–and fresh!  Spring has been so long in coming this year, that I want to taste it at every possible opportunity.

I ransacked my freezer, where I always keep a bag of peas.  But, as it’s spring, I also ordered a bag of pea shoots in this week’s shop.  I love the French trope of doing something two ways.  On many a haute cuisine menu you’ll see salmon two ways, asparagus two ways, or tomatoes two ways.  So, why not peas two ways?  And using both the pea itself and the sprout, I feel like this is a timely riff on vegetarian nose-to-tail cooking.  Who knew lunch by myself could be so cuilnarily political!?

I whiz up the peas with basil, pine nuts, lemon zest, Pecorino, and olive oil for a light, creamy, bright kind of pea pesto that I slather on grilled bread.  And on the side, a lightly wilted pea shoot salad.  Both get a last minute spritz of lemon for a little jolt.  Sweet peas.  Bitter pea shoots.  I devoured it.

Warm Pea Shoot Salad and Smashed Peas on Toast
serves 2 to 3

Peas Two WaysINGREDIENTS

Warm Pea Shoot Salad

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced or grated (optional)
  • 2 2.5-oz bags of pea shoots
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Smashed Peas on Toast

  • 6 thick slices of good country bread—I prefer pain au levain
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 ounce Pecorino cheese, roughly crumbled by hand
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lemon cheeks, for serving

METHOD

In a small skillet, the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, if using, and 15 seconds later, add the pea shoots, salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat, and toss until wilted.  Add the lemon zest, toss, and set aside.

Set the bread on a grill or in the toasted to char lightly.  Meanwhile, combine the peas, basil, Pecorino, pine nuts, lemon zest, olive oil, and salt and pepper in the food processor.  Whiz until nearly smooth, but still with a big of texture.  Smear the smashed peas thickly on the charred bread, squirt with lemon, and eat NOW!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Maille’s Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary

RECIPE: Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 2My mother and step-father rent a little place in the south of France for a few weeks more summers than not, and Mr. English and I make a point to save up our vacation to spend it there with them.  While we have officially stationed ourselves in one Provence or Riviera town or another, wherever our rental may be, these annually anticipated days are filled with wanderlust as we shuttle en famille between seaside towns and mountain perches, eschewing the glamorous hotspots for a daily search for traditional local eateries.  That is how we discovered bavette at one such establishment called Coquelicot somewhere in the vicinity of Cap d’Antibes or Juan les Pins.

Bavette is what we call flank steak, which after filet is my favorite cut for steak.  I love it spice-crusted and grilled in tacos.  Or marinated and seared.  Or, as it is here, flavored and broiled.  It’s quick and easy, but tender and flavorful, and blessedly inexpensive.

In France, it is found in simple restaurants served with caramelized shallots and a haystack of salty, crispy frites that luxuriate in the onion jus.  I like it better when it’s good and flavored up with bold tastes.

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 1Maille mustard, which I’ve touted on this site as being our ‘family’ mustard many times, have recently given me access to the breadth of their mustard library, and I think my favorite, aside from the classics, has to be the honey balsamic Dijon.  It’s a ‘black’ mustard that has the sweetness and spice of their top-notch honey mustard, but with the thick tang of balsamic built in, and a stunning color.  Here, it forms the base of a thick marinade-crust that goes on our bavette, along with wholegrain mustard, fresh rosemary (rosemary and mustard are like Frog and Toad—a wonderfully gentle but symbiotic relationship), and garlic.  Then, just ten minutes under the broiler, a sharp knife, and a drizzle of really great, thick balsamic, and you have this French-Italian hybrid steak that’s perfect with grilled vegetables or sandwiches between some pillowy slices of focaccia.

Mr. English shamelessly put away the whole thing in less than the time it took to cool.  Bon app!

P.S. A great thing to do is to save a spoonful of marinade and toss it with a bunch of thick asparagus.  While the steak is resting, throw the asparagus under the broiler for five minutes for the perfect side dish.

Honey Balsamic Dijon Asparagus

Il n’y a que Maille qui m’aille…

Maille_Honey Dijon with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Small

Honey Balsamic Dijon Charbroiled Flank Steak with Rosemary
serves 2 to 4

Honey Balsamic Dijon Bavette 2INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons Maille balsamic honey Dijon mustard, courtesy of Maille
  • 1 tablespoon Maille wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced or grated
  • 1-pound flank steak / bavette
  • Salt and pepper
  • Good, aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

METHOD

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, olive oil, rosemary, and garlic.  Spoon it into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and add the steak.  Massage the marinade all over the meat, and then leave in the fridge for a minimum of two hours up to overnight.

Position the rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler.  To speed cleanup, I line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, and then cut a piece of parchment just large enough to go under the steak to place on the foil.  But you can skip the lining step.  Place the marinated steak on the baking sheet and season both sides very well with salt and pepper.  Broil 4 to 5 minutes on each side for a medium steak.  Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain.  I go for thick slices if I’m serving it as a steak, and thin if I’m serving it as a sandwich.  Drizzle with good, thick, aged balsamic vinegar (just a bit) and garnish with fresh rosemary.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes
 

It’s Been Sweet

DailyCandy LogoI just wanted to take a moment to say thank you and goodbye to DailyCandy, closing down today after fourteen years of filling our inbox with local antidotes to ennui.

When I was twenty-three and just a few months out of college, they offered me my first freelance writing job.  Having a big name on my resume gave me my start, and what I remember most about my early twenties was a roaring wish that someone would give me a chance.  DailyCandy and my fabulous editor Jeralyn, who you can now find at Fathom, did.  I wrote a handful of stories for the New York edition, and then years later, they featured this blog and my recipes for Croque Monsieur, Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes, and Frozen Kir Royale on the Everywhere edition.

I know I speak for many when I say that not only was DC a fun little sweet to get in your inbox, but it allowed so many of us to get our work out to those who, hopefully, wanted to find it.  It gave the first spark to my career, great experience, fun projects, and friends that I have nearly a decade later.  Nothing gold can stay, all good things must come to an end, and all that.  But from me, a humble thanks.

Here, some links to my original stories, and following, the videos for the recipes featured for Bastille Day.  Bon app.  Merci et adieu!

Kick It

The Chocolate Manifesto

Seeing Green

Modern Marvel

Croque Monsieurs

Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes

Frozen Kir Royale

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French Revolution’s Très Cool Frozen Kir Royales for DailyCandy

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French Revolution’s Killer Croque Monsieurs for DailyCandy

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French Revolution’s Strawberry Ice Cream Profiterole Sundaes for DailyCandy

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Whole Roast Fish for Two with Mushroom-Truffle Pesto and Crispy Roasted Wild Mushrooms for Two

RECIPE: Whole Roast Fish for Two with Mushroom-Truffle Pesto and Crispy Roasted Wild Mushrooms

Whole Roasted Bream with Mushroom PestoMy husband and I have a favorite restaurant in London that absolutely no one knows about.  Except the locals and regulars we see when we are there.  But our ‘set’, so to speak, has never heard of it.  We ferry over very special ones when we feel like sharing.

Why do we love it?  Its completely unpretentious location?  Well, frankly, I wouldn’t mind if that improved.  The otherworldly amaretto sours (yes, I said amaretto sours) made with the fresh juice of an entire lemon?  That’s definitely part of it.  But actually, it is what I already mentioned: sharing.

The menu changes daily, and there’s only about three or four appetizers, mains, and desserts to choose from—all seasonal and fabulous—on the printed paper menu.  But the secret is to look up to the chalkboard on the wall.  I never let us arrive after 8, or we risk the dreaded chalk line through one of the specials—the menu equivalent of the chalk outline of a murder.  You can see what was there, but now it’s gone.  Shudder.

The thing that makes it so special is, all the chalkboard items are made to share.

Sea Bream with Roasted MushroomsOur favorite is the slow-cooked lamb shoulder for five, which comes in a cast iron pot, still bubbling, and a second cast-iron tray full of Boulangère potatoes.  There are two big spoons, and that’s it.  You serve yourself.  Firsts, seconds, more often than not thirds and fourths, friends trading pieces of lamb, and scraping at the corner of the potato dish.  There’s the sea bass acqua pazza or steak-frites for two to the three with Béarnaise. I know it seems conflicting, to want to go out so that you can eat the way you do at home, but I just love it.  It feels more convivial than any other meal I’ve ever had.

And that was the inspiration behind this fish.  Even stranger to make a meal to imitate a restaurant that imitates the home, but there you have it.  A bream or a bass, big enough for two, stuffed with a simple mushroom-truffle pesto and topped with crispy broiled wild mushrooms.  The great thing about cooking a whole fish is that you can’t serve it in anything other than the pan in which it was cooked.  So, it has that feel of our secret place.  Bring it to the table, and Mr. English and I just paw at it with our forks, taking pieces, and losing track of how many servings it’s been, insisting the other take more.  And I love the curious juxtaposition of fish with such an earthy ingredient as a mushroom.  It makes for a terrific contrast of texture and flavor.  There’s something cementing about a meal that is made for two and made to be shared.  I like the directive.  Eat and be together now.

I’m just doing what the fish tells me to do.

Bream with Mushroom Pesto

Just a note to say you can also make the mushroom-truffle pesto and serve it on toasts, or toss it with warm fresh fettuccine.  Yum.

Mushroom Pesto

Whole Roast Fish for Two with Mushroom-Truffle Pesto and Crispy Roasted Wild Mushrooms
serves 2 to 3

Whole Roasted Bream with Mushroom PestoINGREDIENTS

  • 14 ounces chestnut or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 jarred black truffles
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil, plus extra for drizzling, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 1 whole 2-pound sea bass or sea bream, gills, guts, scales, and fins removed
  • 7 ounces mixed wild mushrooms

METHOD

In a wide sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat and add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and the pan has just gone dry.  Add the garlic, and sauté another minute until fragrant.  Set aside to cool completely.

In a food processor, add the cooled mushroom and garlic mixture, the truffles, the oil, the basil, the parsley, and the pine nuts.  Blitz until almost smooth—you want it delicate, but still with a bit of texture.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper.  Using a very sharp knife, cut three or four slits at angle through the flesh on each side of the fish to the bone.  Stuff these slits with the mushroom pesto, and then spoon the rest into cavity.  Rub the outside with just a drizzle of oil.  Place in a parchment-lined baking dish, and cook until the fish is just done, about 35 minutes.

While the fish is resting, turn the oven up to 475 degrees F.  Toss the wild mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Spoon the roasted mushrooms and a few extra pine nuts over the fish, and serve.  Drizzle with truffle oil if you’re feeling decadent.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes