Franglais: Sausage and Fennel en Croûte

RECIPE: Sausage and Fennel en Croûte
Sausage and Fennel En Croûte

Sausage and Fennel En Croûte

Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

It’s true: these are glorified pigs in a blanket.

But, there’s nothing wrong with elevating the basic. To me, that’s what fall is all about. The average lazy Sunday becomes an occasion to have everyone over to watch the big game. The usual Friday girl get-together becomes an annual Secret Santa, and a walk in the park is suddenly bedazzled in a million vibrant colors. It’s like everyone takes the season as an immediate signal to dress up, eat a lot, and throw a party. Which is the perfect excuse to pass on the hot dogs and crescent dough and spring for the handmade sausages and puff pastry.

I can’t imagine a situation in which these wouldn’t be apropos. They are enough like the original pig in a blanket to be a kitschy, nostalgic throwback to holiday parties of yore, but enough of a modern renovation to just be plain delicious. I use any kind of good quality fresh sausage flavored with something sweet, like Vidalia onion, fennel, or apple. Then, instead of relish or sauerkraut, I caramelize onions and fresh fennel to a jam. Nothing goes with pork so well as fresh fennel, which adds both freshness and sweetness. Dijon mustard lines the inside of the blanket with spice and tang, the sausage adds that meaty, delightfully greasy snap, the onions and fennel are soft and sweet, and the puff pastry is decadent and crisp. Fennel seeds are the crowning jewels. I serve them whole, or, more often, slice them into bites.

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Categories: Eat, Franglais, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Coffee) Part II: Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

RECIPE: Coffee-Charred Flank Steak
Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Using coffee as a secret ingredient opens up a bitter, bitter world in the kitchen. In a good way. I have found, in experimenting with coffee, that it adds a flavor component not found in other ingredients. Coffee-bitter is a dry, matte flavor that adds such complexity and uniqueness to dishes. It is a delightful contrasting bitterness.

This flank steak is rubbed with chili for heat, sugar for sweetness, coffee for bitterness, pepper for spice, and salt. Together, with the char of a hot grill, the result is a juicy sliced steak with a complex and flavorful crust.

Coffee-Charred Flank Steak

Coffee-Charred Flank SteakIngredients

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
  • 1 1 1/2-pound flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Procedure

Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, espresso, black pepper, salt, and chili powder.

Rub steak all over with vegetable oil.  Press spice mixture onto both sides of steak.

Sear 8 minutes on first side; 6 minutes on reverse.  Tent with foil, and allow meat to rest 10 minutes.  Slice thinly against the grain, and serve.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Sweet Vanilla Quiche

RECIPE: Sweet Vanilla Quiche
Sweet Vanilla Quiche

Sweet Vanilla Quiche

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I am a total junkie for French food magazines, which is where I first saw the idea for a sweet quiche. I often ask myself the question, “Is this French enough?” when I’m writing a recipe. But French food magazines are constantly taking the givens of French food and bending them back on themselves, creating the most simple and surprising dishes that are just so exciting.

I never tried the original recipe for vanilla quiche that I saw, but my version comes out like a sweet vanilla custard baked into a flaky crust, only with more heft and substance than a dessert. Like French toast, it is sweet but substantive. It’s somewhere between eggs for breakfast and a crème brûlée tart, which makes it perfect for brunch or tea. I love this recipe; its as easy as whipping up scrambled eggs, but certainly a step outside of ordinary.

Sweet Vanilla Quiche
serves 6
Sweet Vanilla QuicheIngredients
  • 1 (7-ounce) refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 1 vanilla bean

Procedure

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Unroll pie crust into 9-inch pie plate, tucking back edges of crust or crimping as desired.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until pale and frothy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in flour to combine. Whisk in half and half, and scrape in vanilla seeds, mixing to combine.
  3. Pour egg and half and half mixture into pie crust. Place pie plate on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until egg mixture is puffed and golden, about 55 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature, in slices.

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Categories: Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, French in a Flash, Pastries, Recipes, Series, Tarts, Quiches, Pizzas, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Coffee) Part I: Seared Scallops with Espresso Beurre Blanc

RECIPE: Seared Scallops with Espresso Beurre Blanc
Espresso Scallops

Espresso Scallops

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

This is a true secret ingredient recipe: using something right out of the pantry and altering it to an important but unidentifiable state. The coffee in this recipe (instant espresso, in this case) provides sharp bitterness, contrasted by a luxurious creaminess in the sauce, and a caramel sweetness in the seared scallops. It’s the perfect easy recipe that lends a wow factor to any dinner party.

And, in case you were wondering, it will still work as a pick-me-up. I’ve never felt so awake! So, it adds not only flavor, but also energy, to dinner.

Note: When making a beurre blanc, it is good practice to cut the butter into cubes, then place them in a bowl, and refrigerate until you are ready for it. The colder the butter, the better the sauce.

Seared Scallops with Espresso Beurre Blanc
serves 4

Espresso ScallopsIngredients

  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 5 stems of parsley (stems only), coarsely chopped
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso dissolved in 1/4 cup recently boiled water
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 12 to 16 large sea scallops

Procedure

When making a beurre blanc, it is good practice to cut the butter into cubes, then place them in a bowl, and refrigerate until you are ready for it.  The colder the butter, the better the sauce.

In a small saucepot, put the shallot, parsley stems, peppercorns, cider vinegar, and espresso powder dissolved in hot water.  Bring to simmer on medium heat, and keep on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until liquid is mostly evaporated, and pot is nearly dry (about 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid left).

Once the base of the beurre blanc is reduced, whisk in the heavy cream.  It will bubble.  Begin adding the stick of cubed butter, about 3 small cubes at a time, still over medium heat.  Add more butter only once the butter just added has melted into sauce.  Once all butter is incorporated, take pot off heat, and whisk in pinch of fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.  Strain into a bowl, and set aside.

Working quickly, melt remaining tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until butter foams at edge of pan.  Pat scallops dry on paper towel, and season lightly with fine sea salt.  Sear scallops 3 minutes on first side, until golden brown.  Turn and sear 2 minutes on reverse side.

Plate the dish with a puddle of beurre blanc in the center, and scallops nestled on top.  Serve immediately.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Bernadette’s Poisson à la Crème

RECIPE: Bernadette's Poisson à la Crème
Bernadette's Poisson à la Crème

Bernadette's Poisson à la Crème

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Sometimes, in the year and a half I’ve been writing this column, I totally lack inspiration. What am I going to make this week? That’s what happened yesterday. So I asked my for-all-intents-and-purposes beau-père what dishes he loved most growing up in Normandy, and he said without hesitation his mother Bernadette’s poisson with cream.

He told me that his mother mixed cream and ketchup and poured it over fish. Ketchup? “Ketchup?” I asked him.

“Yes, ketchup.”

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

Franglais: French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

RECIPE: French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

Why do we have to take the good with the bad? I’d rather take the good and leave the bad. The same rules that apply to love also apply to French Onion Soup.

Everyone knows, indisputably, that the best part of French Onion Soup is the cheese. The cheese, that melts over the sides of the hot crock like thick, oozing curtains. That bubbles and browns and smells nutty and is like a huge welcome mat on a snowy evening. It’s the greatest soup there is: renowned, indulgent. But would that be the case without the cheese? I don’t think so.

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

French In A Flash (Classic): Coq Au Riesling

RECIPE: Coq au Riesling
Coq au Riesling

Coq au Riesling

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I once read that France is the same size as the state of Texas; and yet, like the much larger United States, France is full of regions with cuisines as distinct as Louisiana, Maine, and California.

This classic dish, Coq au Riesling, is a chicken stew with mostly the same components as Coq au Vin—except the vin in the recipe is not red, but a fresh, mineral-rich Riesling. The dish comes from Alsace, a region influenced by both French and German cuisines.

I love this dish because it’s lighter than traditional Coq au Vin, but still heavy enough to be considered comfort food. I like the creaminess of the sauce, spiked with bacon and mushrooms and onions and parsley, poured over the traditional buttered egg noodles that accompany the dish. In short, it’s a quirky classic, perfect for fall and spring, when you need comfort food that won’t weigh you down.

Coq au Riesling
serves 4
Coq au RieslingProcedure
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 thick-cut strips of bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 chicken, in 10 pieces (2 breasts, cut in half, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings)
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 onion, medium diced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups dry Riesling
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Procedure

  1. Melt butter in 12-inch, straight-sided sauté pan over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to paper-towel lined plate. Reserve fat in pan.
  2. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel. Season with salt. Return sauté pan to medium high heat until lightly smoking. Add chicken pieces skin side down. Cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Remove pan from heat and transfer chicken to large plate.
  3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pan. Add onions and mushrooms and cook on low heat until most of the exuded liquid has evaporated and onions have started to soften, about 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
  4. Add Riesling, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return chicken to pan and cover. Lower the heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Add bacon back to the pan, and season with black pepper. Simmer uncovered an additional 15 minutes until chicken is done.
  5. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large serving platter. Raise heat to medium-high, and reduce to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche and parsley, and pour over the chicken. Serve immediately, family-style, with warm, crusty, rustic bread or buttered wide egg noodles tossed with freshly chopped parsley.

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