The Secret Ingredient (Avocado): Greener Goddess Dressing

RECIPE: Greener Goddess Dressing
Greener Goddess Dressing

Greener Goddess Dressing & Dip

One of the best ways to eat avocado is when you don’t know it’s there at all: blended and swirled and obliterated. Avocado that has been whirlwinded up into smoothies, shakes, and in this case, dressings—it’s one of the most mesmerizing applications it takes on. When an avocado meets a blender, it dissolves into a gorgeous, green, almost moussy butter. With that rich, mellow flavor and a thick, almost pudding-like consistency. And a whole wallop of potassium. You just can’t argue with such a wholesome chameleon.

For my take on green goddess dressing, I whiz up Hass avocado with the requisite creamy elements to add tang and body, and then a whole garden of flavors: anise, tarragon, sweet basil, sharp scallions, and biting lemons. Garlic and anchovy add bite. Technically, you’re supposed to drizzled this over tender green lettuce leaves, but I also love to use it to dip crudités and even chilled shrimp and fried green tomatoes. Plus, I like to think that the avocado, healthy as it is, takes the place of some of the less healthy mayonnaise and sour cream. What a multitasker!

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

Greener Goddess Dressing
serves 4

Greener Goddess DressingINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 Hass avocado, roughly chopped

  • 2 scallions, trimmed and quartered

  • 1 large garlic clove

  • 2 anchovy fillets

  • 24 leaves of tarragon

  • 12 leaves of basil

  • The juice of 3/4 lemon

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


Put everything in the blender, and whiz on full blast until completely smooth.  Serve over an iceberg wedge, with crudités, with shrimp cocktail, or with anything you want.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient

French in a Flash: Sweet-Tart Duck Breast with Fresh Cherry Sauce

RECIPE: Sweet-Tart Duck Breast with Fresh Cherry Sauce
Cherry Duck

Cherry Duck

When I was little, my dad used to drive me and mom my hours out onto Long Island so he could have a specific, never to be duplicated duck à l’orange.  Is there anything more French-iconic than that dish?  One of the readers of my blog requested that I make a dish that she had staying with a family in La Rochelle: duck breast with cherry sauce.  I thought it might be an opportunity to revisit why fruit pairs so beautifully with duck, and a chance to bring the haute cuisine gastrique-based à l’orange back down to the family table.

Baking a terrific duck breast is actually very easy, and is a skill worth mastering.  Just score the skin and salt the breast: sear over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, then flip and bake for 10 minutes.  It just always works, and you have enough fat left over to roast some fabulous potatoes.

In making the cherry sauce, I wanted to hit the right balance of tang and sweetness, the two flavors that make cherries themselves so unique.  The sauce took on the shape of a fresh Bing cherry and red wine reduction studded with balsamic vinegar and honey.  I know we’re still a month out, but it’s never to early to prepare: I think this is the perfect stay at home Valentine’s meal.  The cherries themselves look like little crimson hearts, and this dish is really easy to pull off, but at the same time, it’s decadent and different.

The cherry sauce is sharp enough to cut the gaminess of the duck, but soft and sophisticated enough to compliment it.

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

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series

Franglais (is back!): The Ultimate Raclette Grilled Cheese Sandwich

RECIPE: The Ultimate Raclette Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Raclette Grilled Cheese

Raclette Grilled Cheese. Look at that ooze!

I can’t believe I didn’t actually discover raclette in France.  It was in London (for shame!).  And being the cheese lover that I am, I’m shocked that it took me until my late twenties to make such an epic discovery.  The guys at the Kappacasein cheese stall at Borough Market secure huge wheels of the semi-soft, pungent cheese under special-made broilers, that heat, melt, bubble, and char the top layer of cheese exposed to the heat.  That cheese is then scraped off the wheel—and right onto a plate of fluffy potatoes, with some cornichons on the side to add some bite to cut through the fat.  It’s just something that everyone should put in his or her mouth every once in a while.  It’s primaly, undeniably, resolution-floutingly delicious.

But I don’t have a special raclette grill at home, and I don’t eat it often enough to warrant buying one.  Nor do I always feel like trekking down to Borough Market.  So I came up with this ultimate grilled cheese as the antidote to a raclette-less life.   The key to this simple sandwich is to use the best ingredients you can find: the best bread (Poiâne if you can swing it), raclette (you’ll need to find a terrific cheesemonger), mayonnaise (excellent imported French mayo, which has a mustardy, vinegary edge that adds a lot to the sandwich), and sea salt (fleur de sel or Maldon preferred, for salinity as well as crunch).  This may seem nitpicky, but I’ll explain.

The best thing about raclette is that it can actually toast.  Much like a Gruyère on top of an onion soup, it can brown and crisp and char, adding a different texture and flavor to the oozy, gooey bits of cheese under the toasted crown.  By using an airy pain au levain with a great crust, you create tiny little holes through with the raclette can melt as you toast the sandwich.  So, the inside cheese is gooey and runny, like a pungent mozzarella, and the crust of the sandwich is a crispy combination of toasted sourdough, sea salt, a swipe of sharp French mayonnaise, and little rivulets of toasted cheese.  So you get the experience of a real raclette grill with just a stove and a skillet.  A little American ingenuity and a lot of great French flavor.  This is my ultimate grilled cheese.  Bon app!

From my column Franglais on The Huffington Post. Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, Vegetarian

Triple-Fried, Triple Citrus Goose Fat Frites

RECIPE: Triple Fried, Triple Citrus Goose Fat Frites
Triple Citrus Frites

Triple Citrus Goose Fat Frites. Idaho potatoes never had it so good!

If you’re looking for a recipe to beat the winter blues, look no further.  This is my ultimate comfort food: matchstick potatoes, deep fried in goose fat (three times so they’re the pinnacle of crisp).  I top them with sea salt I crumble between my fingers and the zest of oranges, lemons, and limes.  It’s an idea I picked up at the old Spring when it used to be in Montmartre: they’d serve them with lobster rolls.  Not too shabby.

I entered this recipe in the winter citrus contest on Food 52.  Check it out!

Triple Fried, Triple Citrus Goose Fat Frites
serves 2 to 3

Triple Citrus FritesINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of Idaho potatoes (about 2 potatoes)

  • Goose fat for frying

  • 1 orange

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 lime

  • Maldon sea salt


Wash the potatoes well, but leave their skins on.  Use a mandoline to carefully slice them into matchsticks.  Place the matchsticks in a big bowl of cold water, and swish them around as though they were in a washing machine, to wash all the starch off.  Drain the potatoes, and pat them extremely dry using paper towels or a clean dishcloth.

Fill your frying vessel, preferably a medium-sized deep enameled cast iron pan, with at least 3 inches of goose fat.  Heat the oil to 325°F.  Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, fry the potatoes for 2½ minutes.  Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Continue until all the potatoes are fried.

Raise the oil temperature to 360°F and repeat the same process, only this time fry the potatoes for only 1 minute.  Drain the first batch, and repeat the process for all the potatoes.  Then raise the heat to 375°F.  Repeat the process again, still working in small batch.  This time, fry the potatoes for only 15 seconds, until they are golden brown and crisp.  Drain on a fresh set of paper towels, and season immediately with salt and citrus.  You will want 8 Microplane swipes each from the orange, the lemon, and the lime.  Crumble the Maldon salt between your fingers, salting the frites to taste.  Use your fingertips to gently toss the salt and citrus zest amongst the frites.  Eat right away!


If you can't find goose fat, you can use duck fat, or just a light vegetable oil.


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Categories: 15 Minutes, Eat, Recipes, Sides, Starches

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

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

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


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

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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

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