French in a Flash: Boursin and Tomato Mini Tartines

RECIPE: Boursin and Tomato Mini Tartines
Boursin and Tomato Mini Tartines

Boursin and Tomato Mini Tartines

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Easy does it.  Tartines, one-sided sandwiches topped with, usually, one thing, are easy.  And they do the trick.  In Paris, I have my little places where I know I can get a tartine I like: usually smoked salmon, or saucisson sec.  Everything on them, and by everything I mean, the bread and the salami or salmon, has to be perfect for the tartine to be quality.  I like that honesty, and simplicity.  It’s not cooking, so much as hospitality.

These tartines are assembled on long slices of crisply toasted baguette, topped with a mash of store-bought Boursin, which is so full of the flavor of garlic and herbs that no matter how you dilute it, it is still the most flavorful thing in your kitchen, cut with ricotta, to make it spreadable.  On top, chopped grape tomatoes, sweet and crunchy, with a drizzle of olive and fleur de sel.  I love these for lunch, or even breakfast.  Satisfying, but uncomplicated.

Boursin and Tomato Mini Tartines
serves 2

Boursin and Tomato Mini TartinesINGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup Garlic and Fine Herbs Boursin
  • 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 6 3/4-inch slices baguette, cut on a steep bias
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes (about 18), quartered
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fleur de sel


In a small bowl, mash together the Boursin and ricotta.  Set aside.

Toast the baguette slices in a toaster until just golden and slightly crisp.  Set on a rack to keep crisp, and cool.

When the bread is cool, spread with the Boursin mixture.  Toss the tomato, olive oil, and fleur de sel together, and spoon on the cheese-topped baguette slices.  Serve immediately.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, Vegetarian

Welcome back to French Revolution!


Today is a big, big, big, big day (to quote from the great book I just finished: The Hunger Games).  I started this blog, French Revolution, on April 13, 2008.  I can’t take all the credit—it wasn’t my idea.  I wanted to be a food writer.  But that’s not exactly a job title with a clear path.  Everyone needs a break, and it turns out in this day in age, you can give that break to yourself.  My boyfriend, belovedly coined Mr. English on this site, commanded me to start a blog.  I was hesitant: as the team behind this website knows, I am not technically gifted.  So I bought Blogging for Dummies, and French Revolution was born.

Today, at nearly three years old, French Revolution is born again.  It as all thanks to Rose Daniels, of Rose Daniels Design, the brilliant, patient, and visionary web designer whose work you see all over this site.  With her worked the tolerant programmer Alex Bajoris, who explained the workings of websites to me with the generosity afforded to a toddler, and Rae Danneman, whose beautiful drawings, full of personality, illuminate every page of this site.  They managed to take the little seed sprouting in my head, and grow it into the new French Revolution.

When French Revolution began, it gave me an accountable way to test a very specific kind of recipe—easy, renovated French-inspired food.  And while that will always be at the heart of what I do, this new site is going to drop pretense and gimmicks, and just have fun with food.  Let loose a little–something I should do more often.  Here, you’ll find great restaurants, interviews with some pretty fantastic foodies, and recipes, of course.   At the request of those nearest and dearest, I will be doing fast, simple after-work recipes that are healthy and easy.  I will be posting videos of the basics.  I will be cooking from French food magazines.  I will be posting my pieces from The Huffington Post and Serious Eats.  I will be having some fun, and I hope you will too!

Thanks for stopping in.  Take a look around, and sign up for the weekly newsletter so you don’t miss a single recipe or restaurant recommendation.  Thank you, past present and future, for being a part of French Revolution.  It just means the world to me.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Franglais: Fried Calamari Persillade

RECIPE: Fried Calamari Persillade
Fried Calamari Persillade

Fried Calamari Persillade

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

Somewhere in the bowels of the Natural History Museum in New York City there is a giant squid.  I’m not sure if the room still exists today as it did back in the Eighties, but as it was then, or at least as I remember it to have been then, there was a huge blue whale hanging from the ceiling, and a Mad Men-esque cocktail bar from which I always ordered a ginger ale with a maraschino cherry.  The whole thing had a sunken-Nautilus aspect: a dim blue lighting, and curiosity tanks filled with things like an old twist-on metal deep-sea diving suit.  And a giant squid.  Not as they are, I imagine, in reality, but as they are in Captain Nemo’s nightmares.

Enter calamari.  I wrote last week that this week’s recipe is inspired by my childhood summers in Woodstock.  It was there that I first encountered not the giant squid of Natural History, but the crispy, golden, miniature squid of an upstate Italian restaurant.  My father, my constant Natural History blue room companion, ordered me a basket, remembering, no doubt, how I stood entranced, marveling at Nemo’s nemesis.  The waiter whisked it from the kitchen, over to me.  My eyes flared open.  In my little hand I clutched the now-crispy tentacles that had haunted so many oversized childhood nightmares.  The long body cut into perfect rings, to be dunked in a boiling sea of marinara sauce.  I knew I never wanted to meet a squid after Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  But from that moment on, above the sea, with the tables turned, I have met them quite happily, and quite often.

Persillade, in French cooking, refers to a topping or combination of parsley and garlic, often packed onto shellfish or lamb or any meat really.  It has such a strong and overwhelmingly delicious and simple flavor.  Here, I very simply fry calamari and toss it with grated fresh, strong garlic, and a confetti of parsley.  I serve it, optionally, with a roasted garlic mayonnaise, but really, the combination of the hot, crispy calamari slowly, gently cooking the garlic and parsley onto each individual piece is so good, it needs nothing but an eager eater.  Of course, I am always happy to oblige.  Bon app.

Fried Calamari Persillade Zoom

Fried Calamari Persillade
serves 2 to 4

Fried Calamari Persillade ZoomINGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of garlic, whole, plus 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 pound calamari tubes, sliced in ½- to ¾-inch rings
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ lemon, zested


Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut the top quarter horizontally off the head of garlic, and wrap the remainder in foil.  Roast for 1 hour, and allow to cool.  Remove foil, and squeeze out roasted garlic cloves.  Mash together with mayonnaise, and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet with high sides, heat 1 to 2 inches oil to 375 to 380°F.  Meanwhile, in a large Ziploc bag, shake the calamari rings with the flour, cornstarch, and salt to coat.  Shake off extra flour, and then fry in 3 batches until crisp and just turning golden, about 3 minutes.  Drain very quickly on paper towel, then toss hot calamari with grated garlic, parsley, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Cut the zest lemon, and serve along with the calamari and roasted garlic mayonnaise.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Eat, Fish, For a Crowd, Franglais, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

London’s Calling: Kasteel Cru

Kasteel Cru

Kasteel Cru

Rarely does a beer make such an impact on me.  Not that I don’t like beer.  I know what I like, and I know what I don’t.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever found true love.

I had this Kasteel Cru a couple of days ago with a fish and chips lunch at Fish! near Borough Market.  I love the label.  I don’t know if it’s real beer-ology or just marketing, but the idea of “sparkling bière brut” made it sound so much like fine champagne.  And the light moonlight color, and the fine bubbles.  Also like champagne.  And then the waiter told me the beer is made with champagne yeast.  I’m not sure what that means, but I loved the delicacy of the beer, its dry finish, and its, yes, elegance.  Ale drinkers may shrink back in horror, but I just loved it, and if you like something light, but still with character, I think you will too.

Kasteel Cru

Available from Asda, Ocado, and Sainsbury’s

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Categories: Finds, London, Voyages

The Secret Ingredient (Black Pepper) Part III: Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

RECIPE: Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce
Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Black Pepper Sauce

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There was a point in the last few years when the combination of strawberry and black pepper became quite trendy. In fact, I believe the reason I got into business school is because I wrote a strawberry-black pepper tart recipe for my interviewer. Except I never tried it! Never tried the tart, never tried the combination.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Frozen, Fruit, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian

London’s Calling: Magic Corn

Magic Corn Standg

Magic Corn Stand

This is what I least expected to find in London: a street cart selling nothing but steamed corn.  But yesterday, touring around with Mr. English and Mr. and Mrs. Miami on the South Bank, I saw this stand.  Magic Corn, it read on the sign strapped above the cart.  “Magic corn?”  I thought.    What can it do?

Magic Corn Flavors

Magic Corn Flavors

It was that question that I asked the salesman behind the cart.  He showed me a huge sac of frozen corn kernels, that instead of putting into an oil popper, he put into a huge vat steamer.  No added fat.  I was excited!  Then, he asked what flavor I wanted.  I was torn, but I told him cheese.  He added some suspicious orange cheese spread, and that kind of cheddar popcorn topping to some hot corn in a thermos, and started shaking it like a martini.  He gently poured the nuggets of cheesy corn in a little Styrofoam cup and handed it to me.

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Categories: London, Restaurants, Voyages

French in a Flash: Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

RECIPE: Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I love eating pasta.  And I love eating pasta in France, because they do Italian with such French flare.  Ratatouille over rigatoni.  Roquefort cream sauce over ribbons of pappardelle.  Brick-red pistou slathered on spaghetti.  It’s just so good, and somehow, so French!

This pasta dish is sort of a giant mushroom duxelles piled on top of fettuccine.  I always write that crème fraîche is a magic ingredient, because it just refuses to separate.  You can do anything to it, and it is completely resilient.  Add some in with the mushrooms in this dish, and you have an instant cream sauce, full of woodland flavors of mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme, that wraps itself around the expectant pasta.  I love this dish because it is earthy, and easy.  Perfect as a side next to some seared and sliced steak.  Or on its own with a drizzle of truffle oil.  Magnifique.

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine Zoom

Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine
serves 4 to 6

Creamy Mushroom FettuccineIngredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium organic chicken stock (use water if vegetarian)
  • 1/4 ounce dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut in eigths
  • 1 extra large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • The leaves from 2 large stems fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound dry fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan


Bring a large pot of water to boil.  In a small covered pot, heat the stock and dried mushrooms together over medium heat, to reconstitute the mushrooms.  In a large, high-sided braising pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.  Add the shallot, garlic, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté on low until the shallot is soft, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove the reconstituted dried mushrooms from the stock.  Add the stock to the fresh mushrooms and shallots, and cook until almost absorbed, 1 minute.  Turn of the heat, and cover the pot.

Salt the boiling water, and cook the fettuccine until al dente, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining.

In a mini food processor, blend together the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the crème fraîche.  Add the mixture to the fresh sautéed mushrooms, and stir to melt the crème fraîche into a sauce.  Toss in the pasta, and add just enough pasta water for the mushrooms mixture to lightly coat the strands of pasta.  Toss with Parmesan, and serve alongside a sliced seared steak, or on its own with a drizzle of black truffle oil.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian