French in a Flash: Watermelon Salad with Fromage de Chèvre Brulé

RECIPE: Watermelon Salad with Fromage de Chèvre Brulé
Watermelon and Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

Watermelon and Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

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I am not at all opposed to themed food. Last year’s Valentine’s column was a traditional Coeur à la Crème, a heart of sweet cream surrounded in a sweet strawberry sauce. This year, my Cupid’s arrow is watermelon salad with baby arugula, honey-balsamic syrup, and torched goat cheese—something pink, which may lead down the road to something blue if you play this Sunday night right.

The key to romance is to share a meal, but to not eat anything too filling—or too smelly (hence a salad, with no onions, no garlic). This salad is composed of planks of sweet pink watermelon, with baby arugula tucked gently in between the Napoleon layers, drizzled with a balsamic reduction sweetened with honey, and then topped with olive oil, fleur de sel, black pepper, and goat cheese, which you then set aflame with a kitchen torch until it boils and bubbles and turns soft and charred. It’s magnificent—plus I just used the words “pink,” “baby,” “honey,” and “aflame” all in one sentence to describe it. How much more romantic can you get?

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pastis) Part II: Pastis-Glazed Fish with Fennel Slaw

RECIPE: Pastis-Glazed Fish with Fennel Slaw
Pastis-Glazed Fish with Fennel Slaw

Pastis-Glazed Fish with Fennel Slaw

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur, is two-faced. It smells positively noxious out of the bottle, and yet tastes so absolutely subtle in cooking that if it were a person, it would have a split personality. Who knew that anything so bold out of a bottle could by so shy in a pan?

I first discovered Pastis on the jovial breath of my adoring grandmother, Mémé, and have been trying to force myself to like it ever since. To no avail. But it has absolutely always been around in my house, my mother having been born in Marseilles, in the heart of Pastis-drinking country. Thus, when I was at her house for the holidays, and our family descended upon us from France once again bearing bottles of duty-free Pastis, I had no choice but to give it a shot.

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

Super Bowl Dimanche!

RECIPE: Honey Dijon Chicken Drummettes

Honey Mustard Chicken Drummettes

Honey Dijon Chicken Drummettes

I admit it. I’m not a football fan. But I am an eater, and so that makes Super Bowl Sunday one of the best days of the year. Did you know that today is the number one avocado consumption day of the year? Instead of guacamole, or last year’s avocado chevre dip (which I still make regularly), this year I am frying avocado and zucchini in a seltzer batter and serving it with tarragon-laden green goddess dressing. And to go with my garden of fries, traditional old chicken wings–except they’ve gone French. I fry chicken drummettes (you could bake as well) and toss them with a sticky glaze of honey and Dijon and old-fashioned grain mustards. They are sweet and spicy and sticky but a bit more soigne than regular buffalo wings. And I hope your team wins. Because, as usual, I’m bringing the food. But I don’t know who’s playing!

Bon app! Et bonne chance!
Zucchini Fries with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce

Zucchini Fries with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce

Click here for the Honey Dijon Chicken Drummettes recipe.
Honey Dijon Chicken Drummettes

Honey Mustard Chicken DrummettesIngredients

  • 1 1/3 pounds chicken drummettes (about 10)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil

Procedure

  1. Heat a cast iron pot half full with vegetable oil to 325°F and preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and fry it in the hot oil for about 7 minutes, turning the drummettes over once. Remove to a paper towel to drain, and season with sea salt.
  3. While the chicken is frying, making the sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Then add the honey and two mustards, and heat through, so the honey is thoroughly runny and melted.
  4. Place the sauce in a large bowl, and add the drummettes. Toss to thoroughly coat.
  5. Arrange the chicken on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon any extra sauce over the top, and bake for 10 minutes. You can easily double or triple this recipe to feed a crowd.
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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes
 

French in a Flash: Dijon Lentil Salad with Lemon-Roasted Shrimp

RECIPE: Dijon Lentil Salad with Lemon-Roasted Shrimp
Lentil Salad with Shrimp

Lentil Salad with Shrimp

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

The inspiration for this dish came from a very unusual place: the menu on the wall in Meryl Streep’s café in It’s Complicated. I always find myself salivating and longing for long picnics on the Pont des Arts whenever I see a Nancy Meyers movie, and this one full of cloudy chocolate croissant reveries was no exception. So when I saw “lentil and shrimp salad” scrawled out across the screen, I thought, “That would make a good column!”

I don’t know how Meryl Streep makes her lentil and shrimp salad, but I make mine with Puy lentils, Dijon vinaigrette,and jumbo shrimp roasted with lemon zest and olive oil in a Riviera-hot oven, ticker-taped with bits of sweet grape tomato peeking. I love the French use of lentils—filling as mashed potatoes but far more virtuous, and while I did recently hear my favorite celebrity chef insist that you could substitute any lentil for the dainty, green du Puy, I will have to ask you not to. Brown lentils that turn to mush were created for soup, and green lentils that stay pert after a hard boil were made for salads. Puy lentils are more and more readily available, but truly any gourmet or health food store should carry them, and like the road less traveled, they make all the difference.

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Categories: Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad
 

The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part III: Membrillo-Roasted Lamb

RECIPE: Membrillo-Roasted Lamb
Membrillo Roasted Lamb

Membrillo Roasted Lamb

Get the whole story from Serious Eats.

With weddings, there must be something blue. And with lamb, there must be something sweet. Whether that something is currant jelly or mint sauce, lamb welcomes a contrasting sweet note.

For this recipe, I pair two traditional lamb partners—rosemary and that extra sweetness—with boneless lamb loin chops. For the sweetness, I use the Spanish quince paste membrillo. This recipe is powerful in its simple execution and strong flavors. It brings out the membrillo’s subtle sweetness, of honey and apricot, so that eaters utter that Secret Ingredient phrase—”What is that?”

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Categories: Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Cod en Papillote

RECIPE: Cod en Papillote
Cod en Papillote

Cod en Papillote

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I was having lunch with an old friend this week who is incredibly successful, and recently engaged. She looked at me over lunch with wide eyes and admitted that she had absolutely no idea how to cook, but wanted to make something for her fiancé maybe once a week that was healthy, light, took very little skill, and could be thrown together in about twenty minutes—something quick that she couldn’t mess up.

Cod en papillote is that recipe. I realize now that I never heard the word “papillote” outside of the culinary term “en papillote,” and when I looked it up, I found that it meant curlpaper—for curling hair. Very quaint. But in culinary terms, it means wrapping and sealing food, using fish or poultry, in parchment and putting it in the oven so it steams in its own juices. Parchment requires fancy folding, so I switched to foil. This recipe is seamless, impossible to get wrong, and requires no clean up.

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

Last Supper

Shack

Shack Burger

Maybe this happens to you too. When I leave a place, like home, for instance, I don’t only think about all the people and the places I will miss. I think about the food. I dream about the food. And I obsess about the food. Take it or leave it. That’s me. I start planning a series of “last suppers” a week in advance. There’s nothing I can do to change it. And in my efforts to suck down every last bite of a place, I usually eat way, way too much. Again, everyone has a vice. And I kind of like mine. It’s tasty.

Leaving New York to come back to England inspired a manic incarnation of my need-to-eat syndrome. I went to the Vinegar Factory and had about three raspberry-jam stuffed corn muffins, that crumble and stick to the roof of your mouth in that solid-peanut-butter way that good corn muffins have. I had the black squid rice and shrimp enchiladas at Maz Mezcal–because it’s not that easy, sorry, to find adequate Mexican in the UK, no matter what anybody tells you. (If you know of some, please tell me, because I’m dying for it!) As I shoved spoonfuls of saffron rice studded with oily black ink and squid bodies and olives and roasted pequillos and peas upon forkful of tender wine-soaked shrimps shrouded in corn tortillas and tomatillo sauce into my mouth, and I chased with still more excruciating bites of refried beans and double-salted tortilla chips. Some people gaze across a landscape. Others breath it in. I inhale it–off a plate.

I made other stops for specific things that aren’t part of the UK food culture. Like Yura for a great turkey sandwich–an American staple that hasn’t been imported into England. Piles of king crab dumplings and Kiss of Fire sushi rolls at Haru. I mean, this was all in the space of a few days, and I’m still standing.

But last but not least was my trek over to The Shake Shack. I took my father, who had never been before, and walked across the park to pre-emptively burn some of the all-American calories we were already guilty about consuming. As I stood in line to order my shack burger, fries, seltzer, and vanilla shake, I did stop and smell the fryers a bit. Perhaps I learned to leave New York by eating up the entirety of the Big Apple because the restaurants are the kitchens of New York. In the way a kitchen is the heart of a home, so a restaurant is the heart of the City. Kids were weaving their way through anxious, hungry legs that stamped like a herd’s in line. Couples were discussing the sourcing of the Yukon gold fries, and just why exactly they were less fat than other fries. The sun glinted in from the glass-paned walls, and I squinted out onto Columbus Avenue. I remembered coming to this very spot with my friend Amanda, who used to live a block away, and ordering a salad with blue cheese dressing and a side of fries when it was another restaurant.

It was New York, and I wanted every last drop of it.

And then I sat down at the glorified picnic table with my dad and my burger. That soft, buttery bun. The crumbling beef, the oozing vinegary sauce. The crisp resilience of the crinkle fries that we shared across the table. That sweet, thick, oozing ketchup. And the shake that wouldn’t budge up the straw–so different from the milk-based shakes of the UK. It was all-American, and I ate it all up to the last crumb. The only thing I didn’t take a bite out of that day was American Pie. But that’s on my list for next time.

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Categories: New York, Restaurants, Voyages