Franglais: American Onion Soup

RECIPE: American Onion Soup
American Onion Soup

American Onion Soup

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

Food to me is medicinal. And in our modern world, we take medicine for both mind and body. A book of soup recipes is like the pharmacy aisle in a supermarket. You have everything you need right there to cure what ails you.

Do you remember Chicken Soup for the Soul? I never understand that title. Chicken soup is something you take when your nose is stuffy, like soup Sudafed. It’s proven to work, but it’s certainly not a hot water bottle for the aching soul. No, when your soul aches, when someone else gets the promotion, when you place the losing bid on that beautiful apartment, is what you crave vegetables and white meat chicken? I don’t think so.

French onion soup is my favorite prescription for mild depression and aching souls. Winter is not just flu season, it’s also I’m-so-depressed-when-will-I-see-the-sun-again season. Onion soup is a crock of beef stock, earthy, ancient, homey. And yet, it is sweet and light and delicious. In my family, we always eat soup with bread and cheese on the side. This cuts the middleman: the bread and cheese are on the soup. The bread floats like a little raft, preserving the bubbling cheese from the molten sea of soup below. And the cheese oozes and droops, and as you pull it back with your spoon, you reveal a hot tub of healing, a pot of sippable Prozac, and life becomes generally satisfying and uplifting. French onion soup is the hearth. It is the home. It cannot help but make you happy.

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Categories: Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Series, Soup, Soup & Salad
 

French in a Flash: Provençal Mussels and Clams over Shells

RECIPE: Provençal Clams and Mussels over Shells
Provençal Clams and Mussels over Shells

Provençal Clams and Mussels over Shells

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

It seems to me that French food gets a really bad reputation around New Year’s. And, I’ll admit, where there’s smoke there’s fire—I do keep at least one pint of heavy cream in my fridge at all times and cannot imagine that life would be worth living without it. Or butter. Or brie. Or Roquefort. No! It’s too horrible to consider.

But let’s not be so provincial, when we should be being Provençal. While some of the classic comforts of northern France may be contrary to some New Year’s resolutions, the food of Provence, in the south, is our own personal French diet cookbook full of vegetables, tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, and seafood.

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

French in a Flash: Black Truffle Pasta

RECIPE: Black Truffle Angel Hair
Truffled Angel Hair

Truffled Angel Hair

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I love New Year’s Eve—the idea of starting over, starting fresh—but I hate New Year’s parties. Waking up with a hangover is, for me, about the worst way to start fresh. So most years I make an extravagant but simple dinner at home with my favorite friends—Mr. English, of course, sometimes some of the girls, sometimes some of the famille—and I always make the same thing: Perrier Jouet champagne, black truffle pasta, and chocolate cake. (Black truffles, by the way, are the French ones.) Everyone goes around and shares their resolution, and there are glittery hats and the ball dropping on the TV. Could anything be better?

I chill the champagne and buy the cake, but I cook the pasta—not such a big deal when all you have to do it boil water. It feels extravagant, but it neither breaks the bank nor your back. With any luck, it is a preview of the riches to come in the new year. I hope, if you’re like me and 1 a.m. is your New Year’s bedtime, that this will help you toast 2011.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Franglais: Pan Bagnat Tuna Fish Sandwiches

RECIPE: Pan Bagnat Tuna Fish Sandwiches
Pan Bagnat Tunafish Sandwiches

Pan Bagnat Tunafish Sandwiches

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

There is something so perfectly American about the tuna fish sandwich that it’s hard to imagine the French having anything to do with the stuff.

The tuna fish sandwich just might be the first dish I ever mastered. When I was young, I would break out the can opener, and my recipe has never deviated since: albacore in water, lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, on sliced oatmeal bread. While I attempted many high-fallutin’ dishes way back when, this was probably my only signature dish. With my nose in the air (as it should be in a kitchen full of canned fish), I was convinced no one could make it as well as I could. And I ate it all the time, sharing scraps with the family cat.

The French tuna fish sandwich is slightly more ornate. The Pan Bagnat, or bathing bread, has all the flavors of a Niçoise salad on a bun: tuna, hard-boiled egg, lemon, olives, anchovies, lettuce, tomato, vinaigrette. When I had it, it was plain chunky tuna, lemon mayonnaise, hard boiled egg, anchovy fillets, black olives, lettuce, and tomato, sold like a deli tuna fish sandwich at a bakery for hungry lunchers.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Marmalade) Part III: Marmalade and Stinky Cheese Tartines

RECIPE: Marmalade and Stinky Cheese Tartines

Marmalade and Stinky Cheese Tartines

Marmalade and Stinky Cheese Tartines

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I saved the best for last. Of all the secret ingredients of 2010, marmalade has been my favorite. It really does add that secret oomph, and it’s nearly impossible to match its depth of flavor. And it is my favorite not least of all because I don’t usually like it (although I have loved reading the comments of those of you who do!). It just goes to show you (or rather, it just goes to show me) that one should always try to eat new things. Perhaps I’ve found my New Year’s resolution.

And while we’re on the topic of New Year’s, this is about that time where you might be digging for great cocktail party and entertaining recipes. For me, I could eat my whole day’s worth of meals in tiny, punchy bites at a finger food cocktail party. Canapés and cheese plates are my idea of culinary heaven. So I combined them.

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bread & Butter, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

Franglais: Brie and Avocado Quesadillas

RECIPE: Brie and Avocado Quesadillas
Brie and Avocado Quesadillas

Brie and Avocado Quesadillas

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

Food, to me, is punctuation. Think of how dull life would be if you didn’t have three meals a day by which to mark its progress. Just one run-on sentence without any meaning whatsoever. I always think to myself, I can go to the dry cleaners after lunch (comma) and run by the bookstore before dinner (colon). But, if every day is a sentence, week a paragraph, year a chapter, and lifetime a novel, then there is only one period at the end of my day, one way to mark it is truly over, and done. The late night snack.

When I am virtuous, I can replace the late night bite with a cup of tea. But I am notorious for finishing off an especially late or eventful evening with none other than: the quesadilla. Whether it’s a true affair, like the one in this recipe, or some shredded cheddar and salsa thrown into a tortilla and microwaved until oozing, it is actually more of an exclamation point, than a period, at the end of my day. I honestly believe, dieters advice to the contrary, that having the kind of day, or night, that finds you home, famished, at 1 AM means you deserve something to send you off to sleep satisfied.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Creamy Saffron Mussel and Spinach Pasta

RECIPE: Creamy Saffron Pasta with Mussels and Spinach
Creamy Saffron Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

Creamy Saffron Pasta with Mussels and Spinach

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

This pasta is based on a creamy saffron mussel soup I learned to prepare at cooking school in Paris. It was salty from the briny liqueur the mussels leach out into the pot, luscious and sweet from the cream, and heady and intoxicating from the scent of the saffron, which always reminds me of a genie jumping from a perfume bottle. It tasted like a million dollars.

What I love about doing this as a pasta dish is how rich it feels while actually being a bit on the cheap. The pasta cost me $2, the mussels $6, organic spinach about $2, and, pro-rated, the saffron about $3. Everything else I had in my fridge, so it comes to around $3.25 a person for a seafood pasta with saffron—a small fortune at most restaurants, if they are enterprising enough to sell it in the first place. And if you have to buy the wine, so be it: something to wash this down with!

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