French in a Flash: Carrot and Brie Puffs

RECIPE: Carrot and Brie Puffs
Carrot and Brie Puffs

Carrot and Brie Puffs

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I made these puffs back home. Home is where the heart is, and where la famille waits with empty, hungry stomachs to taste and to critique and to decide whether my recipe will live forever in the halls of ignominy, or will be dubbed “un gagnant.” Many daughters have a hard time taking all their mothers’ suggestions seriously, but I think I may have grown up. Maman, when she tasted these carrot and brie puffs straight out of the oven, took a knife, stabbed a puff, and stuffed some extra bits of brie into the middle. The steam melted it, and voila, one bite later, there was delicious, crispy brie on top of the puff, and melting, oozing brie on the inside. She’s a genius.

Gougères are French cheese puffs, made from the same dough used for profiteroles and eclairs. They’re puffed full of air on the inside, and crisp on the outside with a touch of doughiness. So good, you could eat a million. I normally make them with Gruyère or Parmesan, but I think carrot and brie goes so well together. These puffs have carrot and chervil in the dough, and brie melted into the top and, if you like, in the center. Served directly from the oven, they’re the perfect afternoon snack, but are also elegant and innovative enough to make an appearance at a cocktail party, or as something to munch on with drinks before dinner. Good as gold.

Carrot and Brie Puffs
makes 22
Carrot and Brie PuffsIngredients
  • 1 carrot, peeled, and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch disks
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chervil
  • 1 to 2 ounces brie, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Procedure

  1. Adjust the rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Add carrots to medium saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for until extremely tender, about 20 minutes, and drain.
  3. Add carrots and 1/2 cup water to blender and blend until completely smooth.
  4. Place carrot mixture in a medium saucepan and add the butter. Cover, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Take pan off heat, and dump in flour. Stir vigorously with wooden spoon to combine. Return pot to medium-low heat, and stir with wooden spoon until dough pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, about 1 minute.
  5. Place dough in a bowl, and add 1 egg at a time, stirring with wooden spoon to thoroughly incorporate each egg. Stir in chopped chervil. Dough will be thick and sticky.
  6. Use a small ice cream scoop to make about 20 to 22 balls of dough on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press one piece of brie into center of each ball. Use a wet finger to press down any edges of pastry that may burn.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350° and cook until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes longer.
  8. Serve immediately, or make a slit in the puff and insert another cube of brie while the puffs are still extremely hot. Close, and the brie will melt inside.
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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bakery, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Pastries, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
 

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

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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