I love cranberries. I love that their arrival in the produce section is the natural equivalent to the burgeoning supplies of Christmas stockings and Indian corn I suddenly see everywhere. And what I love most about them is how American they are. Though I have traveled far, and for a long time, I have never seen the fresh patriotic little berry anywhere but our continent. They are just everything Thanksgiving to me, and because it is my favorite holiday, cranberries hold an esteemed place in my heart.
In doing my cranberry research for November’s cranberry series on The Secret Ingredient, I confirmed my suspicions that cranberries are distinctly American and Canadian. We actually started exporting them to Europe in the nineteenth century, and Native Americans were indeed using them both for food, and for medicine and dye. So it is probable (I will even venture likely with no expertise except enthusiasm!) that they were served at the first Thanksgiving. Which is why I always serve it at mine. (Even though some of my European relatives are a little skeptical of the ruby-hued bitter-sweet jam that I heap onto my plate and mash into my stuffing. More for me.)
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series, Sides, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetables, Vegetarian
Pâte à choux, or choux pastry, is the Madonna of doughs. It is always reinventing itself. It can be fried into beignets; boiled into Parisian gnocchi; piped into éclairs; piped with cheese and roasted in gougères; sliced and sandwiched into profiteroles. But the most simple and perfect of them all is when they’re crusted in sugar and baked into the little-known (Stateside)chouquettes.
Chouquettes loosely translates to “little bits of choux.” They are usually sold in baskets perched atop the glass pastry cases of bakeries and pastry shops in France. A sort of afterthought, they are just profiteroles shells—crisp, airy, and hollow, crusted in lumps of pearl sugar. They are just a bit sweet, and slightly rich and eggy from the pastry. They make the perfect snack: unassuming, unextravagant, unfilling. But yet they add that touch of afternoon sweetness to the day, and take the edge off a rumbling belly.
Zucchini Mint Goat Cheese Omelet
I suppose my “easy-omelet” is somewhere between an omelet and a quiche. No crust, but baked in the oven until fluffy. The flavors are simple: buttery zucchini, fresh mint, and soft, tangy goat cheese. You could swap out the mint for basil, parsley, or thyme and choose asparagus or even cooked autumn squash in place of the zucchini. Then, all you need is eggs and milk and, as if by some miracle, the whole thing cooks up into a dish that is beautiful and rustic, fluffy and golden. A one-pot wonder!
Easy-Omelet With Zucchini, Goat Cheese, And Mint
serves 4 to 6
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 15 leaves fresh mint, chiffonade
- 4 ounces fresh chèvre (goat cheese)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a 9-inch sauté pan (not skillet), melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to low, and cover, stirring every so often until zucchini is tender, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool uncovered.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mint, salt, and pepper.
Crumble the goat cheese, and arrange on top of the zucchini in the same pot the zucchini has cooked. Pour the egg mixture over the top, adjusting the zucchini with clean hands or a fork so they lie parallel to the bottom of the pan.
Bake 30 minutes until set. Then broil about 7 minutes, until puffed, bubbling, and golden. Cut into 6 wedges and serve immediately with chopped green pistachios as garnish.
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: 30 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, Eggs, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Tarts, Quiches, Pizzas, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
Moules Marinière over Spaghetti
To me, when travelling, there are two kinds of places: those places you plan and plan to go to, and the places in which you suddenly end up. Though I often dress as I picture a Normandy gamine might dress–Breton striped t-shirts and snub-nose ballet flats–Normandy was definitely the latter. I never expected to go there, but as my stepfather recently hails from one of its cities, I found myself unmeditatedly in the coastal city of Deauville. Because I tend to be an obsessive trip planner, packing every never-to-be-lived-again second with activities I agonize over for months, I found the sudden appearance of the northern French coast both charming and disarming. And while I was supposed to be intoxicated with new family encounters, I was instead giddy at the sight of the carnival-striped beach umbrellas, Coco Chanel’s first clothing shop location, and, of course, the mussels.
Peanut Cup Profiteroles
Halloween is all about putting on airs. Whether you dress kittenish or devilish, you, and everyone else, are dressing up, not down.
Franglais means taking French flavors and American preparations, or American flavors and French preparations, and mashing them up into something delicious. And when I put American flavors into a French preparation, I have to admit that, like on Halloween, I am dressing them way up.
The all-American flavor duet of peanut butter and chocolate is to die for. Who doesn’t love a Reese’s peanut butter cup? I don’t know if there was a Mr. Reese, or if he did invent the magic of peanut butter and chocolate, but whoever it was, he was a visionary.
Allumettes means matchsticks, and in the kitchen they not only mean the little sticks of wood used to ignite a stove, but also long thin strands of anything crisp, be it French fries, or more commonly, twigs of crisp puff pastry served as snack or to dip into soups.
These allumettes are slightly longer than the industrial standard, baking up to be over a foot long. They’re made from pizza dough, chewy and crisp, like fougasse, France’s version of focaccia. I smother store-bought pizza dough with homemade basil pistou. If you want to be dogmatic about the pistou, leave out the nuts (the distinguishing factor between the Provençal pistou and Ligurian pesto). Then I cut the dough, twist the strands, and bake them. They brown and crisp that way that Parmesan does. The olive oil seems to melt into the bread, and the basil glues onto the allumettes. With little effort, I have delicious better-than-breadsticks. I serve them in a jam jar so they stick up like edible branches. Delicious!
Allumettes with Pistou
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 cups basil leaves
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 finely grated Parmegiano Reggiano
- Place pizza dough in large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with damp paper towel (not touching dough), and cover that with dry kitchen towel. Allow to sit in warm place and proof for 2 hours.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Make pistou by pulsing garlic in food processor until finely chopped. Add basil and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, stream in olive oil. Scrape down sides, and pulse again to incorporate. Season mixture with salt and pepper, and add cheese. Pulse to combine. There should be 3/4 cup of pistou. Spoon into small bowl, and set aside.
- Roll out dough on floured surface into 16-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup pistou over one side of dough. Cut dough into long 1/2-inch strands. Twist several times and place on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Lightly brush tops of allumettes with olive oil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans in oven, until golden and crisp. Cool on rack. Serve in jam jars.
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: 30 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Bakery, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
Boeuf Bourguignon Meatloaf
It is a well-established culinary urban legend that the French hate ketchup. I always think of that I Love Lucy episode with the escargots and the tongs on her nose and the ketchup and the chef who comes tearing out of the kitchen in a fit to see who would dare to order ketchup with his perfect snails. I may have a French family, but Lucy and I share a passport. I love ketchup.
Where else do you find ketchup if not in meatloaf? My mother, being of that beloved race of ketchup-haters from across the Atlantic, never made it for me growing up. So, instead of being that Wednesday night dreaded hockey-puck dinner, meatloaf became for me a kind of sought-after delicacy. Even now when I see it at those gourmet comfort food places that are so trendy, I am entranced at the idea of meatloaf. So homey and comforting and filling and maternal. Like a big hug.
I flavor my plate of all-American nostalgia with the flavors of my own childhood comfort food: Continue reading