HEALTHY WEEKEND BREAKFAST: Sweet Blueberry Greek Yogurt Sundaes

RECIPE: Sweet Blueberry Greek Yogurt Sundaes
Blueberry Greek Yogurt Sundae

Sweet Blueberry Greek Yogurt Sundaes

I am one of those girls who believes with all my heart that skipping breakfast and not eating until 4 in the afternoon will make me skinnier, even though I know with all my head that eating breakfast would definitely prevent that 4 o’clock meal’s being a slice of Starbuck’s coffee cake.  I just got back from Europe, and the combination of being with Mr. English (because being with a boy is about as fattening as the binge from breaking up with one), being in London, and being in Paris has made me feel like the world’s most irresponsible eater.  I’m lethargic, dehydrated, and my face looks mottled.  As much as I love eating nothing but cheese, sugar, and beef stew, I’m a mess.  It’s time to get my house in order.

So, because I’m not seeing Mr. English again until next week, I’m taking this week to refresh and replenish.  That starts with forcing myself to eat breakfast.  Normally, I’ll make an exception for cinnamon rolls or a bagel, but that’s not really what I’m going for right now.  I always keep a tub of Greek yogurt in the fridge for marinades and dips.  But even though its pro-digestive powers are supposed to be miraculous, and it’s filling and full of calcium, I have only rarely eaten it for breakfast.  Then I had this amazing idea.  I love the idea of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, but they’re expensive, and they kind of scare me.  Where has that fruit been?  How long has it been hiding out under all that yogurt?  And most importantly, what is it hiding from?

So, to go with my extra large tub of 2% Greek yogurt, I’m making an extra large batch of two-ingredient blueberry compote.  Fruit-on-the-top yogurt this time.  I start with a bag of frozen organic blueberries, and stew it for seven minutes with some agave, which is better for you than refined sugar.  Pour that oven plain, thick, tangy Greek yogurt, and you have this blueberry pie yogurt sundae parfait perfection, that I top with a sprinkling of puffed brown rice cereal (like brown Rice Krispies) for crunch.  It was good, and I’m full, and I’m proud of myself.  So proud that I can’t wait to open up that yogurt tub again tomorrow morning.

Sweet Blueberry Greek Yogurt Sundaes
makes about 6 (all at once, or over the week)

Blueberry Greek Yogurt SundaeINGREDIENTS

  • 1 1-pound bag frozen organic blueberries, thawed or frozen
  • 2 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2% Greek yogurt
  • Puffed brown rice cereal (like brown Rice Krispies, optional)

PROCEDURE

Put the blueberries and agave in a saucepot over high heat.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and bubble for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Chill completely, pour over a cup full of yogurt, and top with rice cereal.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary Asparagus

RECIPE: Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary Asparagus
Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary Asparagus

Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary Asparagus

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I really appreciate anything that comes complete in a box, every part you will ever or could ever need already included.  Ikea furniture, Liberty needlepoint sets, and Itsu’s bento lunches in London.  Everything I need is already accounted for, included, and sealed in the packaging.  I have no fears or worries; everything I need to assemble, stitch, or eat is right in front of me.  It’s a vacation from thought and planning that I really appreciate.
The French culinary answer to the Ikea box, or Bento box, is the “en croûte.”  Consider puff pastry your packing material.  Then pack everything you need for your meal–your protein, your vegetable, your sauce–inside, with the package doubling as your carb.  Foolproof.  Genius, even.
In this version, I pair the traditional salmon en croûte with rosemary, whose hearty woodsiness pairs perfectly with strident salmon.  Asparagus also works beautifully with rosemary, so that became the veg.  Crème fraîche binds everything together in a light, lemony sauce, and it is all contained in the perfectly golden and puffed pastry.  You look extremely accomplished, and all you did was wrap some ingredients in puff pastry you picked up in the freezer section.  But shh, no one needs to know that a vacation from thought and planning can apply as much to the cooker as to the eater!
Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary Asparagus
serves 4

Salmon en Croûte with Rosemary AsparagusINGREDIENTS

  • 16 medium-stalked asparagus (about 3/4 pound), trimmed and peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • The zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, thawed but very cold
  • 2 1/2-pound boneless, skinless salmon fillets

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bring a pot of water to boil, and salt the water.  Drop the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.  Transfer the asparagus to an ice bath, and cool completely.  Dry on a paper towel, then slice into thin coins on a bias.  Mix the asparagus pieces with rosemary, garlic, crème fraîche, and lemon zest in a small bowl.

Unfold both sheets of puff pastry, and lay them separately on a counter or cutting board.  Place one piece of salmon on one side of each sheet of puff pastry.  Top each salmon fillet with half the asparagus mixture.  Then, fold the pastry over the salmon, and press the pastry together to form a seal.  Trim any pastry border in excess of 1 inch, and then crimp the edge of the pastry.  Cut 2 or 3 steam vents in the top of the pastry, and place the two parcels on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until puffed and golden, about 35 minutes.  Slice each parcel in half, and serve immediately.

 

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

London’s Calling: Ben’s Cookies

Ben's Cookies

Ben's Cookies

I’m a total cookie monster.  I survived my MBA on double chocolate chunk cookies every afternoon.  Especially during macroeconomics.  But when I want a real treat in England, I go to Ben’s Cookies.  Without question.  Like a child ranting after the Pied Piper.

Ben’s Cookies is to England what Crumbs is to New York–in that perfectly (we like to think) sane girls give up any hope of self-control and succumb in utterly every way to the intoxicating perfection that is a Ben’s cookie.  They are sold by the weight, and these are no skinny cookies.  They’re big, with crisp edges, and a collapsing, buttery, melting, oozing center, fresh from the oven.  The chocolate smears all over your face and your hands.  You try to stop because no one needs a cookie this big, but you can’t.  You are overwhelmed by Ben and all his sweetness and chocolaty charms.  But you give in, because you know you wanted to from the beginning.  You were always going to go through with it, from the moment you saw the red and white sign down the block.  You were a goner!

Ben's Cookie Stack

Image from Ben's Cookies. Click the picture to see all the cookies.

I am extremely partial to the chocolate orange, a combination of milk chocolate and marmalade, the triple chocolate, a chocolate cookie with chocolate and white chocolate chunks, and the dark chocolate, which is basically the ultimate version of a Chips Ahoy.  It should be noted that we are not talking chocolate chips, but chocolate slabs.  They also have lemon, coconut, chocolate-praline, chocolate-nut, double chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, ginger, oatmeal-raisin, fruit-and-nut, milk chocolate.  I actually just did all that from memory.  I literally can’t talk about it anymore, I’m going to go buy another one.

Ben’s Cookies

Stores all over the UK.  Click here for locations.


p.s. One of the best things about Ben’s is their overnight cookie delivery service.  It’s the cookie equivalent of Santa Claus.  I sent boxes of them to Mr. English for our anniversary and Mr. and Mrs. Miami for their engagement.  If you love someone in England, you may want to tell them in cookies.

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Franglais: Ham and Cheese Palmiers

RECIPE: Ham and Cheese Palmiers
Ham and Cheese Palmiers

Ham and Cheese Palmiers

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

I am Kerry.  I am twenty-eight.  I am an only child.  And I think palmiers may be the height of manipulation.

I don’t know if it’s just a stereotype, but this only child was physically unable to share until I was twenty years old, when my best friends staged a sharing intervention on me.  But there was always one naughty, calculated, devious exception to the rule.  One thing I would share: palmiers.

Palmiers, or elephant ears as we know them, are my mother’s favorite pastry.  I am convinced that the reason we call them elephant ears is because the original palmiers were always so big.  Bigger than my face big.  So when my mom would take me to the pastry shop and ask me what I wanted, I would smile angelically up at her and ask, saccharine notes dripping from my lips, “Would you share a palmier with me?”  She would start back in gleeful surprise, eyes opened wide at the shock of it all, her selfish little girl offering to share her favorite pastry.  But let’s be honest: I wanted the sugary, buttery, crispy thing anyway, and it was probably the only thing in the shop that I couldn’t finish by my little self.  Eating good, and looking good, all in one sweet move.

I found from then on that palmiers are the secret to social success.  I would share them with my mom, with my friends, with anyone who would have me.  No one ever complained.  And I suddenly looked sweet as the palmier itself.

It’s not easy to make the giant palmiers at home, but it is easy to make an equally sharable batch of smaller ones.  One of my favorite things to do is turn the tables and make savory palmiers, stuffed with tapenade or pesto or, in this case, the flavors of a croque monsieur: ham and cheese.  Just roll ham and Gruyère in puff pastry, and bake until crisp.  They are salty and buttery and smoky from ham and crispy cheese.  I serve them with Dijon mustard, and a stack of cornichons, for the perfect party starter.  See, they’re still the secret to social success, only at this size, you can have one all to yourself.

Ham and Cheese Palmiers
makes about 15

Ham and Cheese PalmiersINGREDIENTS

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold, rolled out to 9½ by 9½ inches
  • 3 thin deli slices of Black Forest ham
  • 7 thin deli slices of Gruyère or aged Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Cornichons (optional)

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lay the cheese and then the ham in a single layer over the entire surface of the rolled-out pastry.  Starting at opposite ends of the pastry, roll both ends tightly so they meet in the center.  Trim off the ends of the log, then cut the log into ½-inch slices.  Lay the slices, the palmiers, flat in a single layer on a Silpat-lined baking sheet, leaving space between the palmiers for them to puff as they bake.  Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 25 minutes.  Serve warm with Dijon mustard and cornichons on the side.

 

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Franglais, Recipes, Series
 

London’s Calling: The Canton Arms

Canton Arms

Canton Arms

Mr. English and I spend a lot of time in Stockwell in London.  For those of you who don’t know it, and I wouldn’t if it weren’t for Mr. English, it’s not the place that I would have necessarily expected to find fantastic food.  You know what they say about English food.  But last night, we went down to the local pub, where we’ve ordinarily just gone for beers, and sat down to a proper meal.  When I tell you, it was one of the best meals I ever had in this country, and it was in the middle of gastro no man’s land!  What a tremendous find.  If you’re ever down south of the river, you have to try Canton Arms.

The ambiance is very dark wood, low key, British pub.  The front room is full of intellectuals ruminating over pints and reading books in high-backed chairs.  The wait staff is bright and young and cheerful, against the somber atmosphere, which makes me realize that I can’t remember if there was a fire going, or if it was them that made it feel so bright and cozy.  Around the back of the bar is this large, quaint, wooden room, filled with a hodgepodge of different sized, very comfortable tables and chairs.  Little votives in shot glasses winked and twinkled all over the dark room, giving it a starlight feel.  Very modern meets old world.  Very, I’ll say it again, cozy.  Mr. English and I appropriated a corner table by the window, and looked at the menu.  The beer and wine list is far more extensive than the dinner menu, but Mr. English tells me that the latter changes all the time, if not every day.

I was really surprised by the choices.  Probably because I was unfairly biased against a gastropub in Stockwell to begin with, which is evidence that one should not be a place-ist eater.  The starters included split pea and ham soup, braised cuttlefish with butter beans and olives, smoked salmon with what seemed to be house-pickled cucumbers, and a melange of beets with cow’s curd and rosemary and crisp bread crumbs resurrected from the excellent brown bread they served to start.  I had the beets, a combination of carpaccio-thin white beets that I’d never seen before, and wedges of small golden and red beets.  The beets, of course, were sweet, and lightly tossed in vinaigrette.  On top was a white cloud of tart, creamy cow’s curd.  And on top of that, extremely crisp and chunky wheat crumbs, and rosemary.  It was so simple, and so good.

The mains included black bass with crab risotto and monk’s beard, pork belly, cassoulet, and gnocchi.  When my gnocchi first arrived bubbling in a gratin dish, I had it inside out.  I thought the little chunks around the perimeter were the gnocchi, and I asked Mr. English, “what’s this thing in the middle?”  As it turns out, the thing in the middle was one giant, genius, rectangular, fluffy-as-air gnocchi, smothered in a cauldron of excellent tomato sauce studded with roasted squash and chard.  The top of the gnocchi slab was gratined with Parmesan cheese–sort of a gnocchi parmesan, instead of chicken or eggplant.  It was truly delicious.

To wash it all down, I had the cocktail of the day: rhubarb and prosecco.  And for dessert, a lemon cream pot, topped with a shot of crème de cassis, and an English shortbread cookie.

I loved it because it was this cold, windy, brutal English night, in a part of London that can, in all honesty, appear bleak.  There is a lot of grayness here.  But what I love about the English is that in the grayscape about them, they create points of color.  A whimsical hat perched at a bright angle like a tropical bird.  A planter full of pansies down the street.  Bright scarves and floral prints.  And a gastropub that twinkled with votives in the night, and that served fresh, colorful, English food that cheered up the eyes, and filled up the stomach in that hearty-meets-frivolous English way.  I love the pride they are taking in their cuisine right now, and especially in their ingredients.  I left feeling warm.

Canton Arms

177 South Lambeth Road

Stockwell, London SW8 1XP

0207 5828710


So sorry I don’t have pictures of the food from last night.  I tried, but the lighting made it impossible!

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What I Bring Back From Paris

Red Currants

Red Currants

The great thing about leaving France for another European country is you don’t have to abandon the food right away.  Here’s a list of what I couldn’t leave without:

Tomme Noire des Pyrenées

One of my favorite cheeses.  So expensive in the States; so cheap in France.  I first had it as a summer exchange student in Brest.  It’s dimpled, and soft for a firm cheese, and somewhat sweet and creamy.  I could eat a whole wedge on a whole baguette.

Petit Ecolier Cookies

These are available in the States, but I didn’t want to ride the train without them.  If you weren’t raised on these, go out and buy them right now.  A Petit Beurre cookie with an equal amount of chocolate stamped onto it.  Confection perfection.

Red Currants

I can’t get over the fruit in France.  It’s made me quite the snob actually.  If a fruit isn’t sweet and juicy and ripe at the store, I don’t want to know from it.  The one fruit that is so common in France and that I can never find at home is currants–golden, red, and black.  They are tart, and snap in your mouth like salmon roe.  I forgot to put these in the fridge, and I almost cried when I saw how they’d deteriorated overnight.  At least I had one branch in the hotel room before I left!

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Categories: Paris, Voyages
 

All the Pretty Paris Meals, 2nd Edition

I like a lot of places.  But I love very few.  Cities are like people in that way.  But I love Paris.  Paris, je t’aime.  If a city could be a person, Paris would be my best friend.  And New York would be my mom.  Even though in real life, the one comes from the other!  But you get the point.

I am in London seeing Mr. English, and because I don’t know when I’ll be back in Europe, I begged him to go to Paris with me.  It’s still such novelty to me, fleeing to my favorite city by train, staying for just a couple days.  What American thinks of going to Paris for less than a weekend?  I will never take that for granted.

I love the moment the Eurostar emerges from the under the Channel, and I know I am looking onto the fields of northern France.  I still imagine them in such a provincial way, full of butter and Calvados, like out of a Courbet painting.  Even though in reality I see wind farms.  Then, I arrive in Paris.  I am always grinning like the Cheshire cat who caught the canary–ear to ear.  Because I am in Paris!  How cool is that?  I slip onto the Metro, and come out on the same street where we always stay, at the same hotel, on the same street on which I lived while I was at the Cordon Bleu.  I love that I have a little “home” in a city I didn’t even visit until I was fifteen years old.  It’s close to my cousins, but it has nothing to do with where maman and Mémé lived ages ago.  It’s all mine.  I know all my favorite shops and bistros and cafés.  And Mr. English and I always chide each other, because we never go anywhere else except my favorite shops and bistros and cafés.  The same pet shop that has crazy things like pigeons and squirrels.  The picnic spot on the Seine.  But I like the sense of being a local in Paris.  Again, how cool is that?

I’m passing a dreary Tuesday afternoon in a very gray London, and there’s a chance you might be doing that too somewhere.  So, if you want a little daydream, here’s a vicarious trip through fabulous Paris, as Mr. English and I lived it last weekend.  These are some of my favorite places and things, so if you plan on being Parisian anytime soon, these come with great references.

Thursday Lunch

I arrived in the Gare du Nord alone, with my usual Cheshire-Cat-ate-the-canary grin, and had to find lunch before Metro-ing over to the Petit Bateau store on the Champs-Elysées where I tend to over-stock up because the tees and striped sweaters that I subsist on are so much cheaper in France (especially if you’re there in time for the summer sales!) than they are in the Madison Avenue outpost.  The best place for that is the Horse’s Tavern, where I used to go for a 10PM Croque Monsieur after cooking school.  I don’t know why it has a name from the Wild Wild West, because it has a totally French menu.  They have so many different delicious croques on the menu that I decided not to stop and judge.  But this time, I had onion soup gratinée and a salade verte.  The onion soup took me surprise, so clear, and with very thin, miniscule bits of tomato.  But it really worked.  So gooey and satisfying.

The Horse's Tavern

The Horse's Tavern

The Horse’s Tavern

16 Carrefour Odéon

75006 Paris France

+33 01 43 54 96 91

Thursday Dinner

Mr. English met me in time for dinner in Paris.  What a gent!  Where else but our favorite place, Le Comptoir?  We sat outside on the terrace under the heaters, and it was the perfect date.  Tightly tucked on tiny round bistro tables between animated conversations and precocious pets pining for a knocked-over coin of baguette.  I love it there.  Mr. English had pavé d’agneau (roast lamb) with a wine sauce and vegetables, and his favorite, the salade niçoise.  I had beef-cheek daube, a winey stew from Provence.  They actually cooked baby elbow macaroni in the wine broth, so it was stained burgundy, and soaked with delicious stewiness.  Genius.  An idea I will definitely be hijacking.  I started with the salad of legumes de saison–every time I go there, it’s a new selection of vegetables in a new vinaigrette, so always with such abundance and color and gaiety.  It’s the best salad.  And for dessert, because this is my favorite thing anywhere in all of Paris, Le Comptoir’s vanilla pot de crème, which in my humble opinion sets the standard for all cream pots worldwide.  It is super thick, but velvety, and only slight sweet while brimming with little dots of vanilla.  It’s a dream.  I made Mr. English order his own.  I am so not sharing that.

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

In the Hôtel Relais Saint Germain

9 Carrefour Odéon

75006 Paris France

+33 01 43 29 12 05

Friday Breakfast

We got a really late start, so we walked down the Boulevard Saint-Germain to Les Deux Magots, our favorite breakfast place, even if it is both touristy and ritzy.  We love sitting on the terrace during the summer watching the sparrows peck at the remains of our croissants.  It’s very Paris to us.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur, which was, to put it simply, simply terrific.  I washed it down with a super-sour Citron Pressé.  Perfect as a prelude to shopping across the street at Aigle and Monoprix for rainboots and argan oil.

Croque Monsieur Les Deux Magots

Croque Monsieur, Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots

6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés

75006 Paris France

+33 01 45 48 44 25

Friday Lunch

Mr. English and I are obsessed with the Caviar d’Aubergines you can buy at the Monoprix, a department store with a great food hall, and, incidentally, really good inexpensive French soaps like Le Petit Marseillais.  We picked up a tub of Caviar d’Aubergines, which is like French Baba Ganoush, and a baguette, and head to the Luxembourg Gardens.  We wash it down with French green plums, so juicy that my hands are soaked as I eat.  Paris is a place to picnic.

Caviar d'Aubergines, Monoprix

Caviar d'Aubergines, Monoprix

Monoprix

50 rue de Rennes

75006 Paris France

Other stores all over France

Friday Snack

We spent the afternoon walking down the Quais on the Left Bank, browsing the stalls of old books and drawings.  I collect, admittedly, cheap copies of Redoutés flower drawings that you can find all over those stalls.  We ended at Berthillon on the Ile Saint-Louis.  It’s Paris’s most famous ice cream shop–and there are many ice cream shops in Paris.  I always order their raspberry-rose sorbet or their raspberry whipped cream, but it’s being winter, they didn’t have any.  Cheers to French insistence on seasonality!  So instead, I ordered the French equivalent of a sundae: vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.  But the vanilla ice cream was so full of vanilla that it was nearly brown, and so fragrant and delicious.  The whipped cream was stiff and fresh.  And the chocolate coulis was a just a warm drizzle, a hint.  With an almond tuile instead of a cone–it was very good.  There is something very romantic about eating something childish with the one you love.  And something very competitive about sharing a sundae.

Berthillon's Ice Cream Sundae

Berthillon's Ice Cream Sundae

Berthillon

29-31 rue Saint-Louis-en-Ile

75004 Paris France

+33 01 43 54 31 61

Friday Dinner

I took Mr. English back to an old institution of mine: Le Relais de l’Entrecôte.  They don’t have a menu: it’s a steak and potato place, and all you tell them is how you’d like your meat cooked.  How I hadn’t brought my steak-and-potatoes English boyfriend to this place before now I really don’t know.  We both ordered medium, and soon a green salad with walnuts and mustard dressing and baguette arrived.  Soon after, a plate of sliced steak in this unfathomable secret sauce that I’ve been trying to figure out for a decade, but still can’t decipher, under a pile of matchstick French fries.  And then, wait for it, a second identical plate arrives.  You could have dessert, but we just went for a drink at Les Editeurs a couple of blocks away.  Cassis and soda–I highly recommend it.

Steak Frites, L'Entrecote

Steak Frites, L'Entrecôte

Le Relais de l’Entrecôte

20 rue Saint-Benoît

75006 Paris France

+33 01 45 49 16 00

Saturday Breakfast

Why fix something that ain’t broke?  Back to Les Deux Magots for my more usual breakfast: Smoked Salmon Tartine on Poilâne bread, without butter.  It’s cut into little cigarettes so you can eat it with your fingers.  I always wash it down with the Pamplemousse Pressé, freshly squeezed perfect pink grapefruit juice.  And because it was my last day in Paris, a croissant.

Croissant, Les Deux Magots

Croissant, Les Deux Magots

Saturday Dinner

After a day spent buying old engravings in J.C. Martinez and browsing vintage Air France ad posters at Galerie Documents, we were ready to eat again.  We always have our first and last meals at our favorite place: Le Comptoir.  We sat inside this time, and ordered light.  I had the best scallops I’ve ever had, roasted in their shells with sweet butter and herbs, and strips of roasted and braised endive draped over the top.  Bitter, and sweet–just as a last meal should be.  The scallops were barely cooked, and tasted like sweet lobster in drawn butter.  They were so fresh that they were still attached to their shells.  I ran chunks of brown bread through the butter, and ate them.  Mr. English had seared tuna with vegetables and pistou.  And then, a chocolate tarte sablé to share.

Scallop Shells, Le Comptoir

The Remains of the Meal

It was the best weekend.  The worst part of leaving is that I don’t know when I’ll be back.  We always take the train back at night, and I can never tell when we leave those Courbet fields and head back under the Chunnel.  I hate saying goodbye.


All the Pretty Little Paris Meals, 1st Edition

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Categories: Finds, Paris, Restaurants, Voyages