Salmon with Thyme and Three-Lemon Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Salmon with Thyme and Three-Lemon Crème Fraîche
Salmon with Thyme and Three-Lemon Crème Fraîche

Salmon with Thyme and Three-Lemon Crème Fraîche

Salmon is my sit-down-and-be-good food.  The I-ate-too-many-latkes antidote.  And I’ve been doing a zillion variations on this theme this winter: a slab of salmon slow-roasted with olive oil on a bed of herbs.  Traditionally, I do a simple pairing of rosemary and thyme with a good cascade of olive oil.  But this is a lighter and brighter version, roasted over thyme and lemon.  Usually, I roast fish at 400 to 450 degrees–hot and fast.  But with this, I let it go longer at 350–the edges get crisp.  The cooking is more gentle.  The fish soaks up the flavor of the herbs and citrus.  Everyone is just more relaxed.

I serve it hot, for dinner, or room temp, for brunch, with a throw-together sauce of crème fraîche, thyme leaves, and three variations on the lemon theme: lemon zest, lemon juice, and minced preserved lemon (a gift from my Moroccan grandmother, who makes them herself).  It the salmon is hot, the cream melts and pools in the cracks in the cooked fish.  If the salmon is room temperature, it’s like a dipping sauce.  Either way, this feels light and lean, and it pays due respect to the citrus season. Continue reading

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

Poussins (Baby Chickens) with Prosciutto and Rosemary with White Beans for Two

RECIPE: Poussins with Prosciutto and Rosemary with White Beans

Hens with Prosciutto, Rosemary, and White Beans

This meal is a show-stopper. An elegant and expeditious way to serve a roasted bird for a small crowd at the holidays. Although, you could make as many of these as you needed to, to serve a crowd.

Buy a couple of poussin (which are essentially what we call Cornish game hens in the United States), and, using some strong kitchen shears, cut out their backbones. Now, you have a flat bird that you rub with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh garlic and rosemary needles. As the crowning glory, wrap the birds in prosciutto di Parma. As the birds roast, the skin bronzes, the garlic and rosemary perfumes the meat, and the prosciutto crisps to a salty shell. They’re cooked in under 25 minutes. Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series
 

Spicy, Smoky Bean Cakes with Limey Slaw for Two

RECIPE: Spicy, Smoky Bean Cakes with Limey Slaw
Spicy Bean Cakes

Spicy bean cakes, lime slaw, and charred avocado

I think it might have been a chemical reaction triggered by my thirtieth birthday a few weeks ago, but a little nagging voice in my head has been whispering to me: “eat healthy.”

I could stand to take the advice. Between rushed office lunches and the inevitable chocolate craving at four in the afternoon, dinner at home with Mr. English actually becomes the time where we both reset and try to behave like the responsible adults we’re pretending to be.

The cakes are awesome for this purpose. They’re kind of like crab cakes, but a Tex-Mex bean version that are low in fat and brimming with flavor. And the best part is, you can whip the whole thing together in five minutes in your food processor. Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Eat, Main Courses, Meatless Mondays, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Hearty, Wholesome Chard, Pancetta, and Pecorino Quiche

RECIPE: Chard, Pancetta, and Pecorino Quiche
Chard Pancetta Pecorino Quiche

Quiche brimming with Swiss chard, sharp Pecorino, and crispy pancetta

Quiche reminds me of Christmastime because there’s no other time of year (except maybe Thanksgiving) when I would need to make a breakfast that serves more than two people. Being in a full house for the holidays, I find it a whole lot easier to throw together a quiche that serves everyone elegantly than to stand frying or poaching individual eggs in the morning.

I start with a store-bought piecrust because I’m not a pastry chef. You’re more than welcome to go homemade. After that, quiche is really a cinch. This one is stuffed with hearty winter greens and sharp flavors. I start by rendering some cubed pancetta, which is as close as I can find to the fabulous French almost-bacon, ventrèche. In that, I wilt down a grassy mountain of Swiss chard. Scatter that over the crust and top with a quickly-whisked mixture of eggs, milk, crème fraîche, and salty and sharp Pecorino Romano cheese—a filling made for cold winter mornings. The whole thing puffs and browns in the oven. Continue reading

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Eggs, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Tarts, Quiches, Pizzas, Vegetarian
 

Salt-Baked Fish Stuffed with Herbs and Lemon

RECIPE: Herb-Stuffed, Salt-Baked Bream
Salt-Baked Bream

Salt-Baked Bream

Mr. English and I just got back from a trip to France to visit our wedding caterer. The day of our tasting may have been the best day of my life. I’m not sure the actual wedding can beat sitting down to 11 different versions of every possible French menu item. We’ll see if love really does conquer all next fall.

But until then, I decided to recreate my favorite dish of the list: salt-baked sea bream. I’ve made it in cooking school, but I’d forgotten how mind-blowing and inimitable salt-baked fish really is, in addition to being criminally and deceptively simple. Here, a whole bream gets stuffed with herbs (the caterer used thyme, fennel, and tarragon; I use thyme and lemon) and then baked in a hard shell of packed salt. The salt adds only a little salinity to the fish itself, but as the salt shell hardens in the oven it seals in the steam and juices from the fish and the flavor from the herbs and citrus. Continue reading

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

Holiday Fennel-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Red Onions for Two

RECIPE: Fennel-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Red Onions
Fennel Roasted Pork

Fennel seed- and thyme-crusted pork tenderloin with sweet roasted fennel and onions

Sometimes, like this year, I have holidays à deux.  And this column is, of course, about eating terrific, but realistic, dinners for two.  So if this year you find yourself celebrating as a twosome, here is one option I propose: a fabulous, easy, lean roast loin of pork crusted in fennel seeds and fresh thyme with fabulous, soft caramelized fennel and red onions roasted alongside.  Instead of gravy, I top it with a light drizzle of simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The whole dinner takes an hour, so slightly long than our usual Dinners for Two, but, it is a holiday meal after all.  But only about ten minutes of that hour require any effort on your part.  The vegetables roast in the oven with some olive oil for half an hour until they start to soften, and then the pork, coated in fennel and thyme, is simply place in the pan alongside for another 25 minutes.  The vegetables come out collapsingly sweet and soft, and the pork comes out juicy—and the seeds and herb around the outside makes up for the fact that we didn’t spend time searing the pork beforehand.  My little vinaigrette replaces a gravy, but it’s far more punchy and appropriate here.  I serve it with a little mache and pistachio salad.  So impressive for absolutely no effort.

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday!

Fennel-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Red Onions
serves 2 to 3

Fennel Roasted PorkINGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into sixths
  • 2 red onions, cut into sixths
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1-pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a large rectangular metal or enameled baking dish in the oven to heat along with the oven while you prep the ingredients.

When the oven is hot, take the baking dish out, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the fennel, onion, and salt and pepper.  Toss to combine, and return to the oven, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the pork.  Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and crust in fennel seeds and thyme leaves.  Pull the baking dish out of the oven, and move the vegetables to the sides of the dish.  Place the pork in the center and roast all together for 25 minutes, until the internal temperature of the pork is 145 degrees F.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

While the pork is resting, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  Slice the pork into thick rounds, and plate along with the roasted fennel and onion.  Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the top, and serve right away with roasted or mashed potatoes or good, crusty bread.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series
 

Holiday Quatre Épices Glazed Carrots

RECIPE: Quatre Épices Glazed Carrots
Quatre Épices Glazed Carrots

Buttery spiced carrots full of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cracked black pepper

One thing (of the many things) I love about French cuisine is the little mixtures of herbs and spices that, together, have become vastly important and common as one ingredient.  Herbes de Provence.  Fines herbes.  Quatre épices.  Blends that are ubiquitous in France, and synonymous with certain ingredients or preparations.

And the great thing is, quatre épices, a simple blend of ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and black pepper, is like a savory version of holiday spice.  Put it in anything, and it instantly assumes a kind of medieval banquet air that reminds you of gingerbread or mulled wine—but savory.

For this side, I do a simple glazed carrot.  It’s very traditional in France to cook your carrots this way: with butter and water in a pan, letting the steam evaporate as it softens the carrots, and then letting the butter envelope them.  I simply switch up plain sliced carrots for the charming mini Chantenary variety, and add a pinch of quatre épices to spice things up.  They play so well with the natural sweetness of the carrots—it’s perfect.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Quatre Épices Glazed Carrots
serves 4 to 6

Quatre Épices Glazed CarrotsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound baby Chantenay carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Sea salt

PROCEDURE

Place all ingredients in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, the water evaporated, and the spiced glaze thick: about 15 minutes.  Serve right away.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian