Countdown to Bastille Day

Le TricoloreTo know me is to know I love Le 14 Juillet.  I am religious in my observation of the occasion, because I simply love, when I’m not in France, wishing or pretending that I was.  Two years ago, I ushered it in with Mr. English and Jane, my best friend from Le Cordon Bleu, on one of the ponts that arches its back across the Seine as the pastel (yes, pastel) fireworks erupted from the Eiffel Tower.  A few years before that, it was all-drag Can Can on the bar at Florent, the only French diner I’ve ever heard of, before it closed its NYC Meatpacking doors forever.  Another year, it was pétanque in the city.  This year, I’m thinking merguez on the grill.  But any great occasion deserves a little planning, so here’s a taste of all that you’ll be getting on French Rev between now and July 14.  Whether you’ll be having just bread and water à la Bastille (how bad can that be if the bread and water are French?) or nothing but cake à la Mlle. Antoinette, you’ll find the party here.

And much, much more…

Vive la France!

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French in a Flash: Herbes de Provence Seared Steak

RECIPE: Herbes de Provence Seared Steak
Herbes de Provence Seared Steak

Herbes de Provence Seared Steak

If you’re looking to grill on Bastille Day (that’s next Thursday!), look no further.  This recipe, from French in a Flash a few weeks ago, is just about the best grilled steak I’ve ever had.  Inexpensive, but super-tender, beef tenderloin tips are encased in a salty crust of garlic, olive oil, and chopped fresh herbes de Provence: rosemary, thyme, savory, and others.  Seared on the grill, and then sliced up–it’s tremendous, different, light, delicious.  Because frankly, I wait all day for the one day where I can be as French as possible.  And I’m definitely going to take advantage.  Below, the original column.

And if you want to know how to cook perfect bistro steak, watch the video!

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

The Secret Ingredient (Ginger Jam) Part II: The BEST Take-Out Style Ginger Shrimp

RECIPE: Ginger Shrimp
Ginger Shrimp

Ginger Shrimp

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There is nothing like Chinese shrimp—or, at least the shrimp you get in American Chinese restaurants. They have the lightest crispy coating on the outside, and then that thick, flavors-from-all-directions sauce that clings to it like sweet, spicy, savory glue; orange peel, honey, ginger. And a secret to doing it at home, thus saving yourself the tip for takeout, is ginger jam.

In one pot, I quickly fried the cornstarch-coated shrimp. In another pot, off to the side, I bubbled together ginger jam and soy sauce. Toss the two together, top with some cilantro and scallion, and it’s like takeout times ten.

My favorite Secret Ingredients are the ones that multitask, dealing with all life’s troubles for you. Ginger jam is one such example. Add it to the soy sauce, and immediately the sauce takes on the heady heat of the ginger, and the balancing sweetness of the sugar. The thickness gives you that perfect consistency. Leaving you looking like a culinary magician.

Buy Ginger Jam

Ginger Shrimp
serves 2 to 4

Ginger ShrimpINGREDIENTS

  • 12 15-18 count shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails attached
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger jam
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Chopped scallion, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

PROCEDURE

Lightly coat the shrimp with the cornstarch.  Heat the oil in a wok over high heat.  Sear the shrimp in batches one both sides for a total of 2 1/2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, heat the ginger jam and soy sauce over medium heat for minute.  Toss the shrimp in the sauce, and top with chopped scallion and fresh cilantro.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

Franglais: Burrata with White Peaches

RECIPE: Burrata with White Peaches
Burrata with Peaches

Burrata with Peaches

Get the whole story on The Huffington Post.

I’ve been feeling restless. In that soul-churning kind of way, where you don’t even want to stand on one foot for too long. Sitting down for a prolonged plate of pasta is out of the question. I want to eat something noncommittal, something I can pick at, something with enough magnetism to make me stop for a minute, and take a bite.

It’s summer, which means it’s mozzarella and tomato season. But this is better. Slices of milky burrata, nestled next to wedges of sweet, sharp white peaches. Over the top of both, a drizzle of sweet balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil, flaked sea salt, and cracked black pepper. I love that unusual savoriness on the peaches, and they are so much sharper than tomatoes that the burrata’s mildness is even more remarkable. I served it on a wooden board, surrounded with hunks of crusty bread, to dip in the oil, and the milk that runs off the cheese.

It’s just new enough, and interesting enough, to get me to stand–or even sit–still for a minute. And not weigh me down.

Burrata with White Peaches
serves 2

Burrata with PeachesINGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 200-gram (7-ounce) ball of burrata, or buffalo mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 large white peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Maldon or other sea salt
  • Crusty bread for serving

PROCEDURE

Pour the vinegar into a small pan over medium heat, and simmer until the vinegar has thickened and reduced to 1½ tablespoons. Set aside to cool.

Arrange the sliced mozzarella and peaches on a round board or plate. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Once the balsamic reduction has cooled, it will be even thicker. Drizzle all over the peaches and cheese. Slice up some crusty bread, and tuck it around the edges of the platter. Eat up.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Franglais, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

Greek Feast on MyRecipes.com

RECIPE: Greek Grilled Whole Fish
Grilling Fish

Grilling Fish

I was happy to be featured on MyRecipes.com this week, where I wrote about my favorite vacation meal, which, aside from every meal I’ve ever eaten in France, was the grilled bass I ate every single night I was in the Greek Islands with Mr. English last fall.  Click here to see the piece, and get my recipe for homemade tzatziki.  You will make it every day this summer, and what could be healthier: nonfat Greek yogurt, cucumber, and mint?  And try this grilled whole fish with herbs and olive oil.  It’s a show stopper!

Greek Grilled Fish

Greek Grilled Fish with Herbs, Olive Oil, Lemons, and Olives

Tzatziki

Tzatziki!

Greek Grilled Whole Fish
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ¾-pound whole sea bream, sea bass, bGreek Grilled Fishranzini, yellowtail snapper, or other whole mild, white-fleshed fish (have your fishmonger remove any scales, gills, guts, and fins, leaving the head and tail intact)
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons very coarse sea salt (recommended: Maldon), (if using Kosher salt, halve the amount)
  • 6 very thin slices of lemon, cut in half into 12 half-moons
  • 1 ounce fresh thyme
  • Freshly cracked black pepper (about 8 turns of the peppermill)
  • 2 whole lemons, quartered
  • 1 cup pit-in green and black olives, like Kalamata and Sicilian

PROCEDURE

Fire up your grill!  A wood-burning grill is ideal for this recipe, but I also recommend a simple gas grill, preheated to medium-high.

Make sure each fish is trimmed, rinse it, and dry it thoroughly inside and out with paper towel.  Season each fish with 2 tablespoons olive oil: pour roughly 2 teaspoons of oil inside the cavity, and rub it into the flesh.  Then pour the remainder of the 2 tablespoons on the outside of the fish, and rub it into the skin, making sure every inch of the fish, from head to tail, is oiled (this prevents the fish from sticking to the grill).  You’ll want to oil the fish on a wide platter, to catch any oil that will run off, which can still be used to marinate the fish.  Repeat for the remaining 3 fish.  You should have ¼ cup olive oil leftover for later.

Season the fish with salt.  For each fish, you will use 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt, which is a flaky sea salt that creates a great crust on the outside of the fish.  Sprinkle about a third of the teaspoon into the cavity of the fish, and use the remainder of the teaspoon to season the skin.  Repeat with the remaining fish.

Divide the bunch of thyme into 4 little bouquets.  Stuff the cavity of each fish with 3 thin half-moons of lemon, and one little thyme bouquet.  Don’t be afraid to stuff it in there—it should pretty much disappear into the fish.

Season the outside of the fish with pepper, about 1 grind on the peppermill on each side of each fish.  The fish should not be on a platter, stuffed and seasoned, with olive oil pooling on the platter beneath.  That’s perfect!  Place the lemon quarters on the platter as well.

Make sure the grill is nice and hot.  Get the fish nicely coated on both sides in the olive oil on the platter.  Place the fish on the hot grill, and don’t try to move them.  Also place the lemon quarters, cut-side-down, on the grill.  Cook the fish 7 to 8 minutes on each side, until the skin is nicely charred and releases easily from the grill with the help of a pair of tongs and a fish spatula.  The flesh of the fish will be opaque white, and flaky.  Remove the lemons whenever they are charred—it takes about 7 to 8 minutes.

Place the fish and charred lemons on a rustic serving platter, and pour the remaining ¼ cup of fresh extra virgin olive oil right on top of the fish.  Scatter the olives around the platter, and top the fish with a few decorative sprigs of fresh thyme.  Serve them up.

 

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French in a Flash: Provençal White Bean Dip

RECIPE: Provençal White Bean Dip
White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

While in Napa recently, I found and loved a white bean dip at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville, which came served with pain epi. It was creamy, mild, and mellow, but not bland at all. And it had a distinct advantage over butter—I could slather on as much as I wanted without guilt.

In my own concoction, I whizzed together white beans, olive oil, fresh herbs, and the star—a head of roasted garlic. Just buy good crusty French baguette, and you’ll start to feel a little like Thomas Keller yourself.

Provençal White Bean Dip
serves 4

White Bean DipINGREDIENTS

  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • The leaves of 1 stem of fresh rosemary
  • The leaves of 3 stems of fresh thyme

PROCEDURE

Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth.

NOTE

To roast garlic, slice off the top quarter of the garlic, wrap in foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  Then, squeeze out all the flesh.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
 

Red with Hunger: Luke’s Lobster in NYC

Luke's Lobster Roll

Luke's Lobster Roll, with a Half Sour Pickle

I love New York.  Why go to India when I can eat at Tamarind?  Or to Japan when I can sip udon at Haru?  If I can get better exoticisms so close to home, then it certainly isn’t worth the trip to Maine, when the best lobster roll on Earth is just a few blocks away.

I thought that I had tasted the best lobster roll on Earth.  I won’t get into it, now that I’m jostling another one ahead, but it was in Paris, and it was stirred up with lime and orange zests, and handed over with a pile of goose-fat fries.  Not too shabby.  Amazing, even.  But my new favorite lobster roll has to be Luke’s Lobster, at home in NYC.

Maine Root Soda and Mrs. Vick's Chips

Maine Root Soda and Mrs. Vick's Chips

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Categories: New York, Restaurants, Voyages