French in a Flash: Tapenade and Warm Goat Cheese Tartines

RECIPE: Tapenade and Warm Goat Cheese Tartines with Microgreens
Tapenade and Goat Cheese Tartine

Tapenade and Goat Cheese Tartine

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There is something so comforting about spreads–and I think it has something to do with the fact that they get spread on bread, the most comforting of all foods.  So flavorful and so distinct, they are the colorful bedspread tossed over a feathery bread, something bright over something basic but requisite.  And of course, as with a bedspread, the one you grew up with is the one that reminds you of home.  For me, I will always have tapenade and peanut butter–not together, of course.  Although, that might be interesting.

The thing about spreads is that you buy them in a jar, you keep them on hand, and you eat them only when you want to fill that little four o’clock void.  But because they are so distinct, and you do always have them onhand, eating them is so reminiscent of all the times that came before it that they become perhaps the least glamorous of your foods, but also your favorites.  Growing up, we always had black olive tapenade in the fridge.  Coming home from school, I would find the end of a ficelle, and dip it right into the jar.  Salty, and fruity in the way only olives are, the kind of paste that gets stuck in your teeth and falls off the bread.  I loved it, and I still do.  So much fun and flavor with so little effort.  I spend a lot of time thinking up recipes that will impress, and I forget what really impresses me!  And that is simple, hearty food that feels like home, but still looks and tastes beautiful.  That is this tartine–I smother toasted French sourdough with store-bought tapenade, crumble some fresh chèvre cheese on top, and broil it until the cheese softens and just begins to toast.  Toss a tender and peppery salad of microarugula, olive oil, and fleur de sel on top, and you have this incredible, sophisticated, completely easy lunch or dinner (or, if I’m eating, even breakfast!).

Tapenade and Warm Goat Cheese Tartines with Microgreens
serves 2

Tapenade and Goat Cheese TartineIngredients

  • 4 slices pain au levain, or other dense, crusty bread
  • 8 teaspoons tapenade, divided
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup micro arugula
  • 1 scant teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch fleur de sel

Procedure

Preheat the broiler.  Lightly toast the bread.  Spread each slice of bread with 2 teaspoons tapenade, covered the entire surface of the bread.  Crumble 1 ounce goat cheese all over each slice of bread.  Broil for 5 minutes.  Toss the micro arugula with olive oil and salt.  Cut the tartines in half, and top with micro arugula salad.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Black Pepper): Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with Arugula

RECIPE: Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with Arugula
Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with Arugula

Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with Arugula

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Lately, in The Secret Ingredient, I’ve been more inspired by using everyday items, like the bottom half of the maple syrup bottle or the butt ends of vanilla beans, that I already have in new ways.  One thing I always have on hand is a big bottle of whole black peppercorns, that I siphon into my pepper mill once every couple of weeks to keep things hot and interesting.  And while in some ways black pepper is always a secret ingredient, always that spot of heat in the back of your throat, it never really gets given a standing ovation, never gets to play the lead.  In the three recipes this month, the food would be nothing without that tip-of-the-tongue pep that only black pepper can give.  Forget a couple of twists on the pepper mill–we are adding whole handfuls.

Cacio e pepe is a simple pasta dish, named after its two biggest flavors: pecorino and black pepper.  Salty, and pepper.  In my version, I play up the pepper by adding shards of spicy baby arugula.  Multigrain pasta not only adds some health to the dish, but also a great nutty flavor and significant texture.  I have to admit, this is not a new application for me.  When I used to intern at Serious Eats, I would make a version of this in my tiny apartment kitchen after I got off the uptown subway.  It’s so easy, but the flavors are deep, spicy, and bold.  I love eating a huge bowlful after work, or, for a big dinner, serve it as a side next to simple seared steak or roasted jumbo prawns.  Whatever you do with this dish, you won’t miss the black pepper.  It’s finally shaken off its shy side, and stepped into the limelight.

Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with Arugula
serves 4 to 6

Multigrain Cacio e Pepe with ArugulaINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound multigrain spaghetti (recommended: Barilla Plus)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 full handfuls baby arugula, roughly chopped

PROCEDURE

Cook the spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.  Grind the peppercorn in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.

Put the empty pasta pot back on low heat.  When it is dry, add the pepper to the warm pot, and toast for 15 seconds.  Add the butter, half the pasta water, and the pasta.  Top with most of the cheese and the arugula.  Toss to combine, and add the rest of the pasta water if needed to create more of a sauce.  Top with the remaining cheese, and serve as dinner in itself, or on the side of simple seared sliced steak or roasted jumbo shrimp.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash for the Super Bowl: Hotdog Vol-au-Vents

RECIPE: Hotdog Vol-au-Vents
Hotdog Vol-au-Vent

Hotdog Vol-au-Vent

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Are pigs in a blanket really French?  Not really.  And are these really vol-au-vents?  Not exactly.  But since the Super Bowl isn’t exactly French either, I thought we could take a few liberties.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series
 

Franglais for the Super Bowl: Fried Cornichons

RECIPE: Fried Cornichons with Parsley and Grain Mustard Mayonnaise
Fried Cornichons

Fried Cornichons

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

So much in life seems to be in exchange for something else, starting with “you can have dessert once you eat your vegetables.”  For me, eating broccoli was never the problem.  When it comes to watching football, though, I tend to be reluctant.

It’s the food that gets me to the Super Bowl party.  The promise of pigs in a blanket and Doritos.  If you want to take it to the next level and offer a homemade bounty of salty, crunchy snacks on Sunday, I’m going to recommend these: Fried Cornichons.  Fried pickles are one of my all-time favorite American comfort foods.  The pickles are crispy.  The breading is crispy.  They’re pucker-sour and salty.  Amazing.  Instead of sliced bread and butter or dill pickles, I use cornichons, crispy, mini, super-tart French pickles.  I bread them lightly in cornmeal, give them a quick fry, and serve them with a parsley and mustard mayonnaise.  I think they pack a bigger punch than any linebacker, but hey, that’s just me talking.

Fried Cornichons with Parsley and Grain Mustard Mayonnaise
serves 4 to 6

Fried CornichonsIngredients

  • 32 cornichons
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Canola oil for frying
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon grain mustard

Procedure

Pat the cornichons dry with a paper towel.  Put the buttermilk in a small bowl.  Combine the cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in another bowl.  Heat 1 inch of canola oil in a small saucepot to 375°F.

While the oil heats, dredge the cornichons.  Dip them first in the buttermilk, and then shake them, one at a time, in the cornmeal mixture until well coated.  Fry at 375°F in batches of 4 or 5 pickles at a time until crisp and golden-brown, about 2 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel, and season lightly with salt.

To dip, whisk together the mayonnaise, parsley, and grain mustard.  Serve the pickles hot, with the sauce on the side.

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Franglais: Steak and Horseradish Croissants

RECIPE: Steak and Horseradish Croissants
Steak and Horseradish Croissant Interior

Steak and Horseradish Croissant

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

I’m not exactly a “gamer.”  I don’t have any game, I don’t play games, I don’t participate in games.  My high school sports memories are still fresh—raw—enough for me to heed them as warnings.  Like the time I scored a goal for the OTHER team in soccer, or when I was moonlighting as the line ref for a volleyball game, and couldn’t remember which hand motion was “in” and which was “out”.  Let just say, I had enemies on both sides.  So I’ve decided when it comes to games, it’s best to have people over, make them some food to soothe any tensions, and watch safely from behind the pillows of the couch.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series
 

French in the Flash: Braised Fennel Crunch

RECIPE: Braised Fennel Crunch
Braised Fennel Crunch

Braised Fennel Crunch

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

The last time I had braised fennel was in France at a restaurant called Pères et Filles on rue de Seine in Paris. And not to speak ill, because I love that restaurant, but I didn’t love the braised fennel. It can often be too mellow to me, even with its anise aroma and soft-crisp texture. However, it’s a great, easy side dish that’s unusual, and I think unusual food is important—it keeps you interested.

So I decided to jazz up this vegetable side my way. My boyfriend, Mr. English, always tells me he fell in love with me because of my treatment of a certain set of roasted Brussels sprouts. Needless to say, I am of the opinion that vegetable sides are not an afterthought, but a highlight. Or, at least they should be. I quick-braise shards of fennel in white wine and stock, and top it with a simple crust of panko, chervil, fennel fronds, and olive oil. A quick stint under the broiler, and the fennel not only has that acidic twang of white wine but also a fresh anise crust. Not so drab anymore. I love to serve braised fennel with roasted pork loin or grilled or broiled fish. And take comfort in the fact that if you don’t like anise, fennel is much more mild once cooked.

Braised Fennel Crunch
serves 4 to 6

Braised Fennel CrunchIngredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, cut into 1/4-inch slices through the root
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil

Procedure

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a wide non-stick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat.  Once the butter has melted and just begins to foam, add the fennel slices.  Sauté, turning the slices often with a silicone spatula, until just turning golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the wine, and allow it to reduce for 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the fennel is tender to the tip of a knife, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove the lid from the pot, and allow any excess moisture to evaporate.
  3. In a bowl, toss together the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, panko, and fennel fronds and chervil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray a 9 1/2- by 12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil.  Place the fennel all around the bottom of the dish, and cover with the panko-herb mixture.  Place in the boiler, 5 to 6 inches below the heat source, and cook until the panko is golden-brown, 6 to 7 minutes.  Serve immediately.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Vanilla) Part III: Vanilla Cream Pots

RECIPE: Vanilla Cream Pots
Vanilla Cream Pots

Vanilla Cream Pots

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I hope this month’s series on vanilla has given you some ideas about how to use it in different ways. This recipe is my attempt to recreate my favorite dessert in Paris: the vanilla pot de crème at my favorite restaurant in the Carrefour Odéon. When I lived down the street, I would order this several times a week. Pot de crème is most similar to our pudding, but really, they’re nothing alike.

Pot de crème is extremely thick; you have to tug it off the spoon with your lips. Dense and almost cloying, it is redolent of its flavor—whether that’s the Bourbon vanilla at my favorite place, or chocolate, or caramel, or anything else. There is no other flavor here besides vanilla, and the vanilla is use-the-bean-and-the-extract intense. It proves that vanilla can be special, even a bit glamorous. Continue reading

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Categories: Desserts, Eat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian