French in a Flash (Classic): Wild Mushrooms Vol-au-Vent

RECIPE: Wild Mushroom Vol-au-Vent
Wild Mushroom Vol au Vent

Wild Mushroom Vol au Vent

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Whenever I think of puff pastry, I wonder how anything that should be so heavy could ever be so light. It is that lightness that gives meaning to vol-au-vent, literally “flying in the wind.” But in my family, we always translated them as “gone with the wind” because they fly off into people’s stomachs so quickly.

There are a million and one ways to make vol-au-vent, and even though the classic lidded nest in this recipe is the classic shape, I often just make little triangles or squares and call them by the same name, stuffed with anything from goat cheese and jam to brie and brown sugar. They really are blank canvases. This vol-au-vent is well grounded in tradition: a bite-size canapé made from bought puff pastry and stuffed with a creamy mushroom duxelles. The puff pastry is flaky and crispy, ready to crumble and collapse layer by layer at the very hint of a bite. And the mushroom filling is earthy and woodsy from mushrooms and thyme, and smooth from the crème fraîche.

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Individual, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian
 

Franglais: Fish Mistral

RECIPE: Roast Trout Stuffed with Sauce Mistral Recipe
Fish Mistral

Fish Mistral

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

Good things may come in small packages, but really good things come in small packages that come out of the oven.

You deserve Christmas morning more than just once a year. Or twice, if you include birthdays. Haven’t you been good? Don’t you deserve more than two measly bows to unwrap in the next 12 months? The suspense. The guesswork. The shaking the box to figure out what’s inside. The agony of wondering what it could be! It’s the best. If life is so full of surprises, why do so few of them come wrapped in tissue and tied with a bow?

Tonight, the best gift you get is the one you give yourself. And whoever is coming to dinner. This dish is based on a lesser known sauce from Provence called Sauce Mistral, named for the winds that huff and puff through southern France. The sauce is made from almonds, which hang from so many of the trees there. Stuff a butterflied trout with a creamy paste of crunchy ground almonds, garlic, and herbs. Tie the trout with three pretty bows, but despite your best efforts, the crème fraîche starts to ooze out and bubble and brown and the almonds toast and the garlic roasts, and the whole thing smells of Provence and a delicate decadence. Everyone gets his own extremely chic perfect fish package, and instead of shaking to figure out what’s inside, there is suddenly a whole of sniffing. Untie the cords, and voila, Christmas morning. Three bows to unwrap in one night? Not too shabby.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Chorizo) Part III: Chorizo-Crisped Potatoes with Pearl Onions and Whole Onions

RECIPE: Chorizo-Crisped Potatoes with Pearl Onions and Whole Garlic
Chorizo Potatoes

Chorizo Potatoes

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There are some days (actually, most days) where I don’t want a fully composed meal. Just a one-pot-wonder of something satisfying and indulgent will do me. Something that I really want to have leftovers of. Those are days when I don’t want to stop at the grocery store, and don’t want to do a ton of dishes. And this recipe really fits the bill: potatoes and olive oil and stock and Spanish chorizo from my pantry, pearl onions from my freezer, and parsley because I always have parsley.

Chorizo is the lazy man’s (or girl’s) ingredient, because it allows you to give so much flavor with so few ingredients and so little effort. Here, I toss sweet whole pearl onions and garlic cloves and fluffy whole Yukon Gold potatoes with little rounds of cured Spanish chorizo and olive oil. The smoked paprika and garlic leach from the sausage as it crisps and shrinks, and the potatoes bathe in the spices that bleed into the oil, crisping the skin and steaming the insides. It is so good and satisfying. You may consider this a side dish, but for me, it’s the perfect comforting meal. Toss on some fresh parsley for Spanish flair and an attempt at something green, and dinner is set.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, The Secret Ingredient
 

Franglais: A New Series for the Huffington Post

RECIPE: Black and Bleu
Black and Bleu

Black and Bleu

Hello hello! Some of you may know that I have started writing a new series for the Huffington Post: Franglais, a culinary iteration of the kind of French-American patois I grew up speaking and eating. So, all the recipes are half American-inspired, and half French. Just like me. I hope you love it as much as I do. Here is last week’s, my first, installment of Franglais, reprinted: Black and Bleu.


Food to me is all about comfort. The comfort of knowing that your heart is still beating and your clock is still ticking because you’re hungry. And if you’re hungry for food, you’re hungry for life. One of the most terrifying things I can imagine is a woman who has lost her appetite. Dead girl walking (and not eating). The horror.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes
 

Franglais: Saffron-Soaked Clam Bouillabaisse

RECIPE: Saffron-Soaked Clams Bouillabaisse
Saffron-Soaked Clam Bouillabaisse

Saffron-Soaked Clam Bouillabaisse

Get the whole story at The Huffington Post.

There are only some people who will love you when you have shells in your hands and broth dripping from your elbows. They are your friends. And I am not above bribing them to my table with a steaming, teeming Frenchified clambake.

A full table is, after all, as vital as a full plate or a full stomach. Because a table is like a recipe. One person is exotic and spicy like saffron, another sweet like orange and fennel. One has the salty humor of briny shellfish, and another the acerbic wit of dry white wine. As for my friends, they are like a brimming bowl of seafood stew: perfect together, and I just can’t get enough. When I’m away from them, I feel hungry. But with them, I always happy…happy, of course, as a clam.

There was a dining room in college that had a famous stone hearth that read “Ubi Amici Ibidem Sunt Opes“: where there are friends, there are riches. And even though this is a recipe for clams, and not pearly oysters, I think there is treasure here. Bouillabaisse is a peasanty and exotic maritime stew from Marseilles, full of today’s catch and timeless spices, all bought for a king’s ransom. This is a pot full of the finer things in life; but with a table crowded with riches, I think I can afford it.

Clams Bouillabaisse is a streamlined version of the traditional Marseilles fisherman’s stew. A pot of liquid gold broth, gilded with saffron, sloshing with fennel, shallots, and garlic, white wine and tomatoes and sweet sea clams. And orange, for sunshine. I love this dish because it is social and sharable, yet casual. It is messy and simple, but sophisticated, and fifteen minutes of labor and a couple bottles of wine win you hours at a long, summertime feast. To cut cost, I replace half the clams with mussels. Bon app, mes amis!

Saffron-Soaked Clams Bouillabaisse
serves 4 to 6

Saffron-Soaked Clam BouillabaisseINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/2 fennel, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4 pounds clams (Note #1)
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter (optional) (Note #2)
  • 1/4 cup fennel fronds, roughly chopped (or an equal amount of flat-leaf parsley)
  • Zest of 1 orange

PROCEDURE

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan with high sides on medium-low heat. Add the shallots, fennel, and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes: until fragrant and translucent.
  2. Add the wine, saffron, and bay leaf. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to let the saffron start to steep in the liquid.
  3. Add the tomatoes and clams. Cover, and steam until the clams just open, about 5 minutes.
  4. Take the pan off the heat, and shake in 1 tablespoon cold butter (optional).
  5. Toss in the fennel fronds and orange zest, and serve immediately with baguette that has been grilled, drizzled with olive oil, and rubbed with cut fresh garlic.

NOTES

  1. To clean the clams, put them in a large bowl of water, with a few tablespoons of flour stirred in. Put them in the fridge, and for the next hour, the clams will spit out all the sand they've been saving up inside their shells. Then, give them a quick scrub, and throw away any open shells. They're all ready to go.
  2. Adding cold butter to a sauce at the very end adds body and gloss. I highly recommend it, but you could certainly go without.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Franglais, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

French in a Flash: Five Heads of Garlic Roast Chicken

RECIPE: Five Heads of Garlic Roast Chicken
Five Heads of Garlic Roast Chicken

Five Heads of Garlic Roast Chicken

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I hate summertime. Loathe it. So when I see the date is August 26, I know there’s only a handful of days left until September, and even though September is technically summer—come on, we all know that it’s fall. It’s when all the fall stuff starts to happen: back to school, super-thick fashion magazines, and apple season. It’s my favorite month.

Suddenly, the wheels all start to turn again. Everyone is back from vacation, schedules become routine, and the hectic part of life reemerges. Fall is not only a change of mindset, but a change of “mouthset.” I’m done with my summertime grazing of tomatoes (the season’s only redeeming feature) and seafood. Fall requires dinnertime, and what I call “feature meals”—a sort of culinary centerpiece around which everyone can huddle for a quick hour in the evening, amid the resurrection of homework and emails and schedules. It’s the kind of meal that wafts upstairs from the oven; a magnet that calls “dinnertime” without your having too. It’s comfort food.

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

The Secret Ingredient (Chorizo) Part II: Chorizo Burgers with Manchego and Paprika Slaw

RECIPE: Chorizo Burgers with Manchego and Paprika Slaw
Chorizo Burger with Manchego and Paprika Slaw

Chorizo Burger with Manchego and Paprika Slaw

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Mexican chorizo, as opposed to Spanish, is raw, and can be bought in sausage links, or just in a package (pictured in the procedure) as ready-ground sausage meat. I tend to do unorthodox things with my secret ingredients, and I thought a chorizo burger might be the perfect American makeover for chorizo. Of course, as chorizo is pork, that means you have to cook it all the way through. I combine it with ground beef, and melt Cordobes or Manchego over the top, and crown with a cool slaw stained with the smoked paprika in the chorizo. The bun soaks up all that delicious chorizo oil. A summer grilling holiday.

Chorizo Burgers with Manchego and Paprika Slaw
serves 2
Chorizo Burger with Manchego and Paprika SlawIngredients
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 pound fresh (Mexican) chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 pound Cordobes or Manchego
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 big white, crusty rolls

Procedure

Preheat a grill pan on medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, use your hand to gently just combine the beef and chorizo meat.  Season with salt and pepper, and divide and shape into two hamburger patties.  Rub the outside with the olive oil, and place on the hot grill.  Cook 6 to 8 minutes per side.  Once you flip the burger, place slices of cheese on top to melt.

Meanwhile, make the smoky paprika slaw by tossing the cabbage with the mayo, paprika, garlic, scallion, and lemon juice and zest.

Slice the rolls in half horizontally, and place on the grill cut-side-down for 1 to 2 minutes.  Then, build the burger by piling the bun with the burger and its melted cheese, and the slaw.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, The Secret Ingredient