The Secret Ingredient (Avocado): Chunky Charred Fresh Tuna and Avocado Salsa with Corn Chips

RECIPE: Chunky Charred Fresh Tuna and Avocado Salsa with Corn Chips
20120112TunaAvocadoSalsa

Chunky Charred Fresh Tuna and Avocado Salsa

Tuna and avocado are a pretty handsome pair.  Not quite so obvious as peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes the best matches aren’t the most obvious.  When you stop to think of it, as I just did, tuna and avocado are everywhere.  Tuna-avocado rolls are a sushi staple.  My mom used mashed avocado in her tuna salad instead of mayonnaise.  And sliced avocado usually shows up as a garnish on tuna burgers.

This dish was a huge hit: a kind of blurring of salsa and tartare.  I rub a tuna steak in olive oil and smoky, spicy herbs, and char it just to get a little bit of the grilled flavor.  Then, I dice it up, along with diced avocado, tomato, jalapeno, green onion, and cilantro.  A drenching of citrus juice, and a swig of olive oil, and nothing so delicious has even been scooped up on a corn chip before.  You can definitely serve this as an appetizer to share, but it also makes a phenomenal lunch.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats. Continue reading

print this post Posted by Kerry | Leave a comment
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

Chouquettes

RECIPE: Really Easy Chouquettes
Simple Chouquettes

Simple Chouquettes. What a way to wake up!

I still remember my first chouquette.

I’m not big on breakfast.  While it’s most people’s favorite meal, it’s something I usually resolve to eat around this time every year.  Mostly, I fail.  But one fine morning, I was in Paris and on my way to cooking school.  Cooking school is not for the faint of heart or the empty of stomach.  You need calories to burn.  So as I passed by the bakery around the corner from Le Cordon Bleu, I gazed into the window for some inspiration.

In a little cloth-lined basket, I saw a stack of something I’d never noticed before.  Puffs of crisp dough, covered in a crust of pearl sugar.  I asked what they were.  That baker was never friendly and replied with a terse, “chouquettes”.  I realized I was on my own, so I ordered a handful.  With my first bite it hit me: profiterole shells.  They are profiterole shells, without all the sweetness of cream and chocolate.  Just the simple, air-filled, balloon of a shell, crisp on the outside, airy pocket inside, and covered in sugar.  A little bit eggy, just a little bit rich.  But light enough for a girl who hates breakfast.

They’re so easy to make at home, and so charming to serve in a little basket at brunch.  I add a slight American twist by serving them, and sometimes even injecting them, with an assortment of jams.

This post is cross-posted with EcoSalon.  Check it out! Continue reading

print this post Posted by Kerry | 5 Comments
Share

Categories: 60 Minutes, Bakery, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Cheap, Eat, Pastries, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Anchoïade

RECIPE: Anchoïade
Homemade Anchoïade

Homemade Anchoïade

I was thinking about what to make for my column last night, while watching British food TV.  The chef was doing a tour of the Canal de Midi, much as I have done over the last few summers, touring along Castelnaudary, down to Marseille.  It was just outside Marseille, in a town called Cassis, where I first had anchoïade (pronounced: an-show-ee-ad).  Provence is full of dips and pastes—like fabulous, fresh French ketchups, except so much more than that.  They are all made of the region’s signature produce: artichokes, peppers, eggplants, anchovies, olives, tomatoes, basil, and garlic, garlic, and more garlic.

A diamond-standard original is anchoïade, an anchovy spread or dip that I’ve made before.  But this is a far simpler, more honesty version.  I love serving it as a surprise alternative to tapenade, or as a French foil to bagna cauda.  Anchoïade, like most Provençal pastes, is usually banged together in a pestle and mortar, and made from just four ingredients: the best anchovies you can find, packed in olive oil, olive oil itself, preferably extra virgin, white wine vinegar, and, of course, GARLIC.  If anchovies are too salty, or too fishy for you, just soak the fillets in milk for 15 minutes before using them.  That’s also a useful trick for Pissaladière.

Bang together the four ingredients (you can also whiz them up in a food processor) and the anchoïade is done.  I like to serve it with crisp, sweet sugar snaps for a fresh, light crudité aperitif with white wine.  But in Cassis, I had it spooned over roasted sweet bell peppers, and I think it makes a terrific pairing with olive bread or breadsticks.  It’s unusual, quirky, and very local and regional to Provence.  Let’s just call it “le nouveau dip hipster”.

Anchoiade with Red Peppers

Served with roasted sweet peppers in Cassis

Creme d'Anchoiade

Anchoïade on sale in Provence

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

print this post Posted by Kerry | 1 Comment
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Avocado): Mémé’s Avocado Carpaccio

RECIPE: Avocado Carpaccio
Avocado Carpaccio

Avocado Carpaccio

The other night, I was out to dinner at Haru in New York, a favorite sushi bar of ours where we often order outrageous rolls.  The Kiss of Fire with pickled and fresh jalapeños stacked over a rainbow of tunas.  The Golden Passion, with torch-charred super white tuna and yuzu tobiko.  The Kamikaze, the Spider.  The list goes on.

“I want an avocado roll,” I announced.

“An avocado roll!?” they incredulous exclaimed.  “Really?”

They thought I was being boring.  But it’s my absolute favorite.  A sparse stick of avocado at the heart: creamy, buttery, vegetal.  Perfect with a hint of salty soy and the snap of nori.  Avocado, I thought to myself, is a phenomenal ingredient.

So here we are: avocado is January’s secret ingredient for a number of reasons.  First, as I mentioned, it tastes ridiculously awesome.  Second, and let’s be real, it’s January, and I need something healthy in my life and in my body.  Third, it’s texture is so adaptable, and it’s flavor so mild, that you can really do myriad phenomenal dishes with avocado.  I’m not going to teach you how to roll an avocado roll, because some things are best left to the experts.  And I’m not going to do guacamole, because I covered recently in our chipotle month.  And I’m not going to do avocado gelato, because I doubt you’ll actually make it, but I wanted to mention it because if you can find some, you must try it.  In the spirit of avocado month.  But I think that we are going to do some fantastic avocado dishes this month, starting with Mémé’s Avocado Carpaccio.

Mémé is my French-Moroccan grandmother.  Every Moroccan family begins a big meal with a spread of salads: carrot salads, beet salads, chili salads, cucumber and tomato salads, eggplant salads.  And in Mémé’s case, avocado salads.  She makes this simple fan of avocado, and floods it in lemon juice and olive oil.  She bedazzles each Hass half with slivers of scallion, cilantro, and parsley, and then adds the crunch and flavor of flour de sel.  It’s gorgeous, simple, healthy.  Buttery and fresh.  Light and decadent.  In short, it’s perfect.  I love serving it to kick off a healthy fish dinner.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats. Continue reading

print this post Posted by Kerry | 2 Comments
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Individual, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Cassoulet-Style Sausage ‘n’ Beans

RECIPE: Cassoulet-Style Sausage 'n' Beans
Cassoulet-Style Sausage 'n' Beans

Cassoulet-Style Sausage 'n' Beans

I think of French dishes like boyfriends. I remember asking “grown-ups” how they knew they’d met the loves of their lives. They’d always say something cheesy like, “You just know.” I’d roll my eyes. That’s ridiculous.

And then, last summer, I met cassoulet. Brawny, rich but humble, supportive, with an excellent lineage and a bright future. It’s what the French call a coup de foudre—love at first bite. And I just knew. Cassoulet is my favorite French dish. Bouillabaisse. Bourguignon. Gigot à Sept Heures. All just flings! Every moment that I’m away from cassoulet, I’m thinking about it.

I was lucky enough to spend last summer outside of Toulouse near the famous birthplace of cassoulet: Castelnaudary. Cassoulet, if you haven’t yet become acquainted, is a simple, hearty dish from the southwest of France made of duck, goose, or pork confit; garlicky sausage; pork; white beans; and breadcrumbs. It’s life-altering, despite its simplicity. Despite the summer heat, or perhaps in amorous defiance of it, I ate cassoulet every other night, forgetting waistline, expense, and all common decency. I ate it out of a can and I ate it at the best restaurants. And now, so far away from it, I can’t stop craving, and wishing, and hoping, and dreaming about it.

Here’s my quick fix because this is, after all, French in a Flash, and homemade goose confit does not fit under the “in a Flash” heading: white beans flavored with smoky bacon, sausage drippings, herbs, garlic, and wine, crowned with sausage and super-flavorful breadcrumbs. I bake it for 20 minutes, and dive in. Not quite cassoulet, but close enough to the real thing that I can stop crying for one meal.

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

print this post Posted by Kerry | 11 Comments
Share

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

Working Girl Dinner! Mind-Blowing Smoky Guacamole and Spiced Black Bean Soft Tacos

RECIPE: Mind-Blowing Smoky Guacamole and Spiced Black Bean Soft Tacos
Guacamole and Black Bean Tacos

Guacamole and Black Bean Tacos

These tacos leave me speechless.  Which is a rare thing.  I can’t figure out if it’s because they’re so mind-blowing that I literally cannot speak, or because my mouth is fuller than it has ever been before.  Definitely a combination.

I love this recipe for several reasons.  One: it’s super healthy.  And it’s January.  It’s time to stay home, save money, and eat well.  Or at least better.  This dinner is black beans, avocado, and tons of flavor.  No greasy pulled pork (how good is that stuff?), no runny cheeses.  But two: it’s still filling and packed with the smoky flavor of chipotles and cumin and chili powder, and the power punch of lime and jalapenos.  Let me break it down.

There are two equally important fillings in this taco.  The first is the guacamole.  Fresh smashed avocados with red onion, tomatoes, lime, and cilantro.  I spike it with chipotles in adobo for an extra smoky, spicy punch.  Keep in mind, it’s not a topping, but an actual taco filling.  I got the idea at Rosa Mexicano in New York.  They make your guacamole to your specifications tableside, and serve it not only with tortilla chips, but also with small warm corn tortillas for making guacamole tacos.  That’s my favorite bit.  So I stole that idea for these tacos.

The second filling is spiced black beans.  I just warm up some canned black beans with chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and bay leaf.  Use whatever you have on hand.  Then I either char the corn tortillas on the stove, or microwave them, so they’re warm and pliable and the perfect wrapper for all that good filling.  Sometimes I top with sour cream.

This recipe, as with all Working Girl Dinners, is extremely easy, and pretty darn cheap.

When I tell you I love this recipe, I’m talking first-born love.  First-love love.  Soul shattering, earth moving love.  Romeo and Juliet didn’t know love, love.  I love these tacos.  Bon app!

Continue reading

print this post Posted by Kerry | 8 Comments
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian, Vegetarian, Watch, Working Girl Dinners
 

French in a Flash: Awesome Mushroom Pâté

RECIPE: Awesome Mushroom Pâté
Wild Mushroom Pate

Wild Mushroom Pâté

It is my New Year’s tradition to make something with truffles.  They’re so luxurious—and I’m so superstitious.  I figure they will bring a successful year, the way birthday cake brings a sweet one.  This year, I want to make something sophisticated for a New Year’s party.  Something that would go with Champagne.  Something up to the occasion.

This is my mushroom pâté with truffles.  So easy, vegetarian, versatile, scrumptious.  The key is to roast the mushrooms with freshly ground dried mushrooms, whole cloves of garlic, and thyme, so the mushrooms sear and caramelize, the garlic gets softly charred, and the dried mushrooms add that extra shroomy oomph to the whole thing.  I whiz it up with Neufchatel cheese, which is quite low fat, so you can feel good about this in a New Year’s kind of way, and some parsley, and lemon juice.  I finish it with a drizzle of black truffle oil, and some rounds of baguette for smearing.

It’s not a vrai pâté.  But as something light, and fresh, and of course, vegetarian, this trumps it all.  Happy New Year!

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

Wild Mushroom Pate 2 Continue reading

print this post Posted by Kerry | 7 Comments
Share

Categories: 30 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian