French in a Flash: Baked Endive Gratins with Ham and Cheese

RECIPE: Baked Endive Gratin
Endive Gratins

Endive Gratins

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I recently had to explain to a will-not-be-named member of my family that endives are contraband in the States.  Or, I should say, packing raw French endives in your suitcase to consume in the States would be…yeah, illegal.

That is how obsessed we are with endives.  Bitter, crunchy, great in salad.  Sure.  But where it’s really at is in the cooked endive, still crunchy, but slightly tender.  Each leaf still holding its own, but collapsing onto the one beneath it like exhausted babushka dolls.  Still bitter, but just ever-so-slightly more mellow.  It’s like you took the muscle man that is endive and gave him that spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.  Then, they become so delicious, and so unusual, and delicate, and different.  They are so special–worth smuggling, I think.

Endive gratin is a really traditional dish, and I like that you have the rich voluptuousness of a gratin, and the crisp, bitter verdure of the vegetable.  Endive halves are wrapped in ham, then smothered in a simple bechamel, and covered with Gruyere cheese.  Then, they’re baked until the endive is soft and mellow, and the cheese is bubbly and gooey.  A small green salad with a little lemon juice and fleur de sel and you’re in business.  Almost worth jail time.

Baked Endive Gratin
serves 2

Endive GratinsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 endives, halved
  • 4 thinly slices Black Forest ham
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small saucepot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk, and cook 5 minutes over medium heat, whisking often.  Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap each endive in ham.  Pour half the béchamel sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.  Place the endives in the dish, and cover with the remaining sauce.  Top with the cheese, and cover the dish with foil.  Bake 25 minutes, remove the foil, and bake another 30 minutes.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Vegetables
 

Franglais: Blueberry Surprise Vanilla Cream Pots

RECIPE: Blueberry Surprise Vanilla Cream Pots

BlueberriesGet the whole story at The Huffington Post.

I don’t know if they’re still doing this, but I love any surprise that comes with food.  Short of an engagement ring, which I think is a stupid and dangerous thing to bury in anything you might chew.  Think of how many people spend their time making sure there are no rocks in your beans or lettuce, and then you give one to your fiancée so she can chip a tooth before the wedding?  Not the best laid of plans.  Or the best plan to get you…well, you get the picture.

But, those prizes in the Cracker Jack box?  They used to give out little tattoos in the cereal, and I collected all the toys from my Happy Meals.  Once BonBel cheese did a finger puppet promotion and I bought about five sacks so I could have one for each finger.  I love that idea that you’re doing the best thing you can do—eating—and you still get a prize on top of that.  What a wonderful world.

I love this little pot de crème because it’s just like that—a box of delicious Cracker Jacks with an even better surprise down at the bottom.  Starbursts of blueberries, slightly sweetened and cooked down like blueberry pie filling, hidden under a thick pot of vanilla cream.  I love that you stick your spoon unsuspectingly down into—what could be bad about this?—thick, sweet, speckled vanilla cream, and come up with gorgeous indigo bursting berries on the end of your spoon.  Just when you thought dessert couldn’t get any better, it does.

Blueberry Surprise Vanilla Cream Pots
makes 4

BlueberriesINGREDIENTS

  • 5 ounces blueberries
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

PROCEDURE

In a small saucepot, boil the blueberries and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar on medium heat for 12 minutes, until slightly thickened. Spoon the mixture in the bottom of 4 ramekins. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Boil a kettle of water.

Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the bean itself to the cream in a medium saucepot. Heat the vanilla cream on medium-low until bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Meanwhile, in a large measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks with 3 tablespoon sugar until pale. Discard the vanilla pod, and whisk the warm cream quickly into the yolks. Pour over blueberries in the 4 ramekins.

Set the 4 ramekins in a square baking dish, and fill the baking dish halfway with boiled water. Bake at 300 degrees F for 40 minutes, until the center is slightly set. Cool on the counter until the cream pots come to room temperature. Then, cover each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set, preferably overnight. Eat!

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
 

Easy Recipe: What to Cook for Your Boyfriend’s Parents, Part II

RECIPE: Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella
Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella

Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella

After a busy day, I was on for dinner theater again a couple of nights ago.  When I’m too tired to do dinner, and a lot of show, I always opt for pasta.  I love this recipe because it’s so easy, but there’s a little element of the different and gourmet, with the arugula and mozzarella.  The spaghetti sucks up all the marinara sauce, which has that sweet zing from the tomatoes, and then the arugula wilts in, and is slightly bitter and peppery, and the mozzarella just starts to melt and ooze everywhere, and is milky and mild.  So complex for so little work!  It was a hit, so I wanted to share it with you.  Always nice to trot out something that’s an easy A.

Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella
serves 4

Spaghetti Marinara with Arugula and Fresh MozzarellaIngredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 24-ounce jar good marinara sauce (recommended: Mario Batali)
  • 1 small bag baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, drained and finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

PROCEDURE

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the pasta and cook in your usual way until al dente.  Drain.

In the same pot, heat the marinara sauce over medium heat until it's just starting to bubble.  Add in the arugula, and the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper, and toss with tongs until well combined.  The arugula will wilt slightly.  Top with the mozzarella, toss again, and serve immediately, fresh freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

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

GIVEAWAY! Eva Longoria’s Eva’s Kitchen

RECIPE: Eva Longoria's Chunky Guacamole with Serrano Peppers
Eva's Chunky Guacamole on my Black Bean Taco

Eva's Chunky Guacamole on my Black Bean Taco

I’m a cookbook junkie, so when I saw Eva Longoria on Piers Morgan chatting up her guacamole, I thought, really?  But I believe that she loves to cook and eat, and any girl from Texas has got to have a better guacamole recipe than I do.  Last night, I tried out her much-touted recipe for chunky guacamole, which is, as its name would suggest, cut into chunks, rather than mashed all together.  At first I was skeptical, because I love a mushy guac, and I always use lime, where she uses lemon.  Eva, congrats.  It was amazing.  The lemon is nice and sweet, and the chilies are hot, and the whole thing is so fresh and summery.  Instead of piling it up on chips, I warmed up some corn tortillas, and made my own fat-free refried black beans (about 3 cans drained and rinsed black beans, 1/4 cup water, a good palmful each of cumin, coriander, and mild chili powder, and then a sprinkling of cinnamon, warmed up over a medium flame and slightly mashed), and piled up warm corn tortilla tacos with the black beans, some super sharp English white cheddar, and the chunk guac on top.  We were so desperate for the stuff that between the three of us, we at 6 avocados.

I confess that part of my motivation behind doing this giveaway was that I could get to make some Mexican food, which I sorely miss when I’m in London.  America is so full of great ethnic foods, because we all come from every end of the Earth.  In my house, it was always French and Moroccan.  But Eva was pretty lucky to grow up on guacamole.  To win a free copy of Eva Longoria’s cookbook Eva’s Kitchen, which does include this chunky guacamole recipe, leave a comment with your favorite ethnic dish from growing up, or what imported cuisine you just can’t get enough of.  For me, it’s a tie between Mémé’s Moroccan olive stew and, of course, guacamole.  I’ll choose a comment a random next Thursday!  In the meantime, I suggest you make this guacamole…

Also in the meantime, I want to give a little shout-out to Mr. English, who actually created his own recipe for the occasion, a kind of Agua Fresca.  He muddled together fresh mint leaves from the garden, sliced limes, and a simple syrup I showed him how to construct by heating together equal parts water and raw sugar.  Then, he topped it off with sparkling water.  It’s perfect summer, and counteracts the heat in those chili peppers.

Mr. English's Agua Fresca

Mr. English's Agua Fresca

This giveaway closes Thursday, May 19, 2011 at midnight EST.

Eva Longoria's Chunky Guacamole with Serrano Peppers
Adapted from Eva's Kitchen by Eva Longoria, Clarkson Potter, 2011

Chunky GuacamoleIngredients

  • 6 ripe avocados, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely minced
  • Juice from 4 small lemons (about 8 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste

PROCEDUREIn a large bowl, place the avocadoes, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, serrano, lemon juice, and salt.  Stir gently until well combined.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

NOTES

Because I am in London, I have to admit that I had to do some substitutions.  I couldn't find a serrano chili, so I used a long red unlabeled chili that they had at the supermarket.  No white onions, so I used red.  No Kosher salt, so I used Maldon.  It tasted amazing, so it's a resilient recipe.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, Finds, For a Crowd, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

All the Pretty Paris Meals, Third Edition

I know this may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but please try to see it as vicarious deliciousness.  I just got back to London from a weekend in Paris (and I will never get over my American astonishment that that is possible), and as is par for the course, here is what I got to eat.  I wish I could share a bite with each of you, but pictures will have to suffice.  More details from the trip to come!

Restaurant Paul

15 Place Dauphine, 75001

Tomato Tartare with Anchovies

Tomato Tartare with Anchovies

Tuna Tartare with Basil

Tuna Tartare with Basil

Green Salad

Green Salad

Rillettes...

Rillettes...

...with, but of course, bread

...with, but of course, bread

Pierre Hermé

72 rue Bonaparte, 75006

Olive Oil-Vanilla and Green Asparagus-Hazelnut Macarons

Olive Oil-Vanilla and Green Asparagus-Hazelnut Macarons

Berthillon

31 Rue St Louis en l’ile, 75004

Fraise des Bois Sorbet with Crème Chantilly

Fraise des Bois Sorbet with Crème Chantilly

Fraise des Bois SorbetLe Bistrot de l’Alycastre

2 Rue Clément, 75006

Tomato and White Asparagus Tartare with Lobster

Tomato and White Asparagus Tartare with Lobster

Broiled Breton Lobster with Ribbons of Vegetables

Broiled Breton Lobster with Ribbons of Vegetables

Cheese Plate: Cow, Goat, Greens, Pistou

Cheese Plate: Cow, Goat, Greens, Pistou

Lime Blossom Tea

Lime Blossom Tea

Les Deux Magots

8 Place Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir, 75006

Bread and Butter, and the best Pink Grapefruit Juice

Bread and Butter, and the best Pink Grapefruit Juice

Stand on the Side of Les Champs-Elysées

Cheese Crèpes!

Cheese Crèpes!

Le Comptoir

9 Carrefour de Odeon, 75006

Warm White Asparagus with Béarnaise

Warm White Asparagus with Béarnaise

Seasonal Vegetable Salad

Seasonal Vegetable Salad

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise

Orange Salad with Orange Flower Water and Almonds

Orange Salad with Orange Flower Water and Almonds

Ladurée

21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006

Granny Smith Apple, Lily of the Valley, and Pistachio Macarons

Granny Smith Apple, Lily of the Valley, and Pistachio Macarons

Chocolate Religieuse

Chocolate Religieuse

For more Paris drooling, see All the Pretty Paris Meals, Part 1 and Part 2

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Categories: Paris, Voyages
 

WORKING GIRL DINNERS: Easy-Baked Garlic and Herb Scallops (with Gnocchi!)

RECIPE: Easy-Baked Garlic and Herb Scallops
Garlic & Herb Scallops

Garlic & Herb Scallops

If you have friends coming over after work, this is what you have to make.  I know I said last week’s Working Girl Dinner was my favorite, but this might be my new favorite.  I don’t know!  What a hard contest.  These scallops are definitely a looker–built to impress.  And there’s no reason to be scared of making seafood: you can always tell when it’s done, because the scallop will turn from translucent pale pink, to opaque white.  Done!  All you do is start with some big scallops, put them in a baking dish, douse them in a paste of garlic and parsley and olive oil, and bake them.  In the meantime, while they roast, boil up some potato gnocchi (takes 2 minutes, and you know they’re done when they float–pretty easy).  While the scallops are in the oven, they release all of these expensive-tasting seafoody juices that mixes with the garlic and parsley and olive oil, and then you toss the gnocchi in that sauce.  So good!  Definitely fit for company.  Plus, as a bonus, your whole house will smell like the most delicious Spanish tapas bar.  It reminds me of a simple, elegant version of my dad’s favorite order at our local Spanish restaurant, which I’ve been frequenting since before I was born: Mariscada (or, seafood) in Green Sauce.  There is just something about the sweetness and tenderness of scallops that goes so perfectly with this strong, bright, calls-you-into-the-kitchen-from-another-room sauce.  Might be worth popping open a bottle of Cava.

Easy-Baked Garlic and Herb Scallops
serves 2

Garlic & Herb ScallopsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound U-10 scallops (about 6), cut in half horizontally
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 9 ounces potato gnocchi

PROCEDURE

Preheat the broiler.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and salt the water.

Lightly spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.  Arrange the scallops halves, touching, in a single layer.  In a small bowl, whisk together parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Pour over scallops.

Place the baking dish on a tray, and broil for 12 minutes.  Boil the gnocchi until the float—about 4 minutes.  Drain.

Lift the scallops out of the baking dish, and toss the gnocchi around in the sauce.  Place the scallops back on top, and serve.

Tip

To make this for more people, just use more baking dishes, and double the recipe!

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

No Recipe Recipe: What to Cook for Your Boyfriend’s Parents, Part I

RECIPE: No Recipe Recipe: Charred Fish with Spicy Fresh Raw Herb Sauce
Charred Fish with Spicy Fresh Herb Sauce

Charred Fish with Spicy Fresh Herb Sauce

I’ve just got back to London last week, and I’m staying at the Mr. English family house.  The only thing his father said to me as I walked through the door with, count them, four giant suitcases was, “At least now we’ll have some proper food.”  As he helped me hoist my Samsonites up the stairs, I figured that was something I could take care of.

Charred Fish, Fresh from the Oven

Charred Fish, Fresh from the Oven

The weather here in London has been spectacular–light till late, powder-blue skies, and breezes as blustery as a gorgeous sunny day can muster.  For our first dinner out in the back garden, I did a simple charred fish with the world’s easiest summer sauce, with some olive-oil smashed potatoes.  I started with whole sea bass that I found at the supermarket, still on the bone.  I rubbed it down with just a touch of olive oil, and sat it under the broiler until the outside was charred and the inside tender and flaky.  To pour over it, a fresh sauce of mint and chives and parsley from the garden, with slivers of fresh hot chili, and a glug or two of olive oil.  If you could smell the mix of all those fresh chopped herbs, you would be halfway to the supermarket by now.  As soon as those fresh herbs hit the hot fish, and the olive oil starts to cascade in little rivers into all the nooks and crannies, it just smelled like England to me–gardens, and seasides.  A smart thing to do this time of year would be to roast some asparagus alongside the fish as it cooks, just until they’re tender.

Olive Oil-Smashed New Potatoes

Olive Oil-Smashed New Potatoes

If you need a hit with the in-laws, give this a go.  It was so easy, super fresh and seasonal, and there was nothing left in the end.  Mr. English is still raving, so I hope (fingers crossed), that I made a good impression.

No Recipe Recipe: Charred Fish with Spicy Fresh Raw Herb Sauce
serves 2 to 3

Charred Fish with Spicy Fresh Herb SauceINGREDIENTS

  • 2 smallish whole sea bass, gills, guts, scales, and fins removed (have your fishmonger take care of that)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful fresh mint
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 chives
  • 1 small chili

PROCEDURE

Get your broiler nice and hot.  Rub the fish down with a little bit of olive oil, inside and out, and season inside and out with salt and pepper.  Slice half the lemon thinly, and stuff the cavity of each fish with some lemon slices.  Park the fish on a foil-lined baking sheet, and broil until the outside of the fish is charred and the inside is flaky and opaque--about 7 to 9 minutes per side, depending on how big your fish is.  You'll want to place your oven rack on the second position down from the broiler, not just under it or the fish will burn.

Meanwhile, chop the herbs and chili nice and fine.  Mix them together in a bowl or mug with the juice of the remaining half a lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper.  As soon as the fish comes out of the oven, put them on a plate, and pour all the sauce over them.

Olive Oil-Smashed New PotatoesON THE SIDE

Empty a big bag of new potatoes in a large pot, and cover with about an inch of water.  Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain, and put the potatoes back in the pot.  Add salt and maybe some remaining parsley and a few spoonfuls of olive oil (to taste), and light crush the potatoes with a masher or fork.  They will be drier than mashed potatoes--like potato crumbles.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes