The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part II: Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham

RECIPE: Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham
Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

One of my favorite memories of my trip to Spain a year ago was breakfast. Around the corner from our hotel in Barcelona was a little sandwich shop where, for breakfast, you could order a sandwich of crusty bread toasted and rubbed with garlic and tomato, anointed with olive oil and robed around either queso (Manchego) or ham.

For this sandwich, I take the traditional idea of a grilled cheese and fly it back to Spain, pairing the Spanish cheese of Manchego and the softer, more yielding Campo de Montalban with the famed Serrano ham and membrillo (quince paste) and olive oil. The salinity from the cheeses and ham pair perfectly—no surprise—with that traditional cheese coupling of membrillo, which adds a fruity sweetness that’s not too overwhelmingly sugary or watery. In this case, the membrillo acts as a spread, just like mustard in a usual ham and cheese.

Membrillo

Membrillo

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and Serrano Ham
makes 1 sandwich

Grilled Cheese with Membrillo and SerranoIngredients

  • 1 4-inch piece of Gallegea bread, or baguette or ciabatta, halved horizontally
  • 1/2 ounce Manchego, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 ounces Campo de Montalban, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon membrillo, or quince paste
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Serrano ham
  • Olive oil

Special Equipment

A brick wrapped in foil

Procedure

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.

Assemble the sandwiches by laying the cheese on one half of the bread, and spreading the membrillo on the other.  Place the ham over the membrillo, and press the two sides together.  Brush the outside lightly with olive oil.

Place the sandwich in the pan, and place the foil-wrapped brick on top of it to weight it down.  Check after about 2 minutes.  Once the side touching the pan is golden and crisp, flip the sandwich over and replace the brick, allowing the other side to brown as well.  You want to keep the heat on medium low, so that the cheese has time to melt while the crust develops.  When the sandwich is ready, cut in half, or into fingers to serve as a cocktail snack.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

French in a Flash: Lamb and Rosemary Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Rosemary Lamb Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche
Rosemary Lamb Brochettes

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes

A few weeks ago on Serious Eats I received a virulent comment from someone who was very upset about the simplicity of my recipe. And in some ways, I understand that. Why do I get to sit up high somewhere on the Internet pontificating what some people consider child’s play?

But today, I had lunch with one of my oldest friends, who also, happily, lives in the UK. She said to me, “Kerry, I work until nine every night. I don’t know how to cook. I don’t keep a stocked pantry. You have to tell me what to make.”

And as I sat there, I realized she reminded me of someone else: me! I too am in my twenties, and am in school, and don’t have a proper kitchen apparatus at this particular moment (my recipes have to be conjured up away from school–either at Mr. English’s, or when I am back in the States). Often we feel like “good” means “difficult” or “complicated.” But when it comes to food, I am taken back to one of my least favorite classes of all time: Mr. Martin’s sixth grade math. The algebra–that didn’t really stick with me. But one thing did: KISS–Mr. Martin’s mantra of Keep It Simple, Stupid. If you use terrific ingredients, and you know how (or you have someone like me to tell you!) to mix and match, food is better when it isn’t subtle, but when it’s all about a few perfect flavors simply assembled into a fresh, uncluttered meal that contrasts beautifully against our often haggard, extremely cluttered and complicated lives.

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes on the Grill

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes on the Grill

I think this week’s French in a Flash column for Serious Eats exemplifies just that. These lamb brochettes are party food for idiots–they just can’t go wrong, and they are impressive to look at, distinctive and delicious, and use authentical Provencal flavor pairings (apricot, rosemary, and olive oil–stolen from an old Papier Provence that I shared with you). All you have to do is heat a grill pan, skewer some lamb onto a rosemary twig, drizzle on some olive oil, and stir together some apricot jam and creme fraiche. I really love these, and despite their simplicity and graceful ease, I’m sure you will too! BON APP!

For the full story and recipe, as always, click here!

Rosemary Lamb Brochettes with Apricot Crème Fraîche
serves 2 to 3

Rosemary Lamb BrochettesIngredients

  • 1 pound lamb loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sticks of rosemary
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Preheat a grill pan on high heat.
  2. Prepare the rosemary skewers by stripping off about 1/2 to 3/4 of the leaves off of each twig, so that you have an exposed "skewer" with a beautiful head of rosemary leaves. Chop up the stripped off rosemary leaves to flavor the lamb.
  3. Toss the lamb with the olive oil, some of the chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Skewer onto the rosemary sticks.
  4. Sear on all four sides, until just golden and crusted—1 to 2 minutes per side.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce by whisking together the crème fraîche and preserves.
  6. Serve the skewers hot off the grill with the sauce.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series
 

The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part I: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

RECIPE: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers
Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There are certain foods that go hand-in-hand—that are so permanently paired, that if you’ve had one, you can’t have helped but have had the other. Peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, oil and vinegar. And because cheese is my very favorite food, it was only a matter of time before I was exposed to the jelly to cheese’s peanut butter: dulce de membrillo, or membrillo for short.

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Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, Pastries, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

The Secret Ingredient (Wasabi) Part III: Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

RECIPE: Wasabi Chocolate Pudding
Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Spice and chocolate have become so frequently seen together in recent years that I was not surprised when I spotted chocolate and jalapeno gelato the other day in the freezer section. It was this revved-up sweet-hot union that I wanted to explore using wasabi—a different kind of heat, but heat all the same.

This recipe began more as a kitchen experiment than a traditional recipe development, but I was so surprised that I kept it for The Secret Ingredient. I use something gourmet enough, wasabi powder, to add a boom-kick-pow to something quite a lot less gourmet—powdered instant chocolate pudding.

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French in a Flash: Boeuf aux Carottes

RECIPE: Boeuf aux Carottes

Boeuf aux Carottes

Boeuf aux Carottes

So much of my inspiration for my food comes not only from the home cooking Maman dished up over the years, but also the incredible restaurants I’ve been able to sit at in France and abroad. This dish, Boeuf aux Carottes, comes from a little restaurant in the Place Dauphine–and I didn’t order it, Mr. English did. He has great taste (obviously)! But I think I probably ate more than half because it was so good–cubes of beef collapsing into their sauce, sweet like sugar just from the abundance of carrots that added a sprinkle of sunshine to the dish. So humble, and so flawless. It warms body and soul, and I had to recreate it this week for French in a Flash, because I am absolutely freezing! I use short ribs instead of the traditional beef stew meat, but you could viably choose either. Bon app!

Braising Beef Short Ribs with Carrots

Braising Beef Short Ribs with Carrots

For the full story and recipe from my column French in a Flash on Serious Eats, as always, click here.

Boeuf aux Carottes
serves 4

Boeuf aux CarottesIngredients

  • 3 pounds beef short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 12 carrots, peeled (cut 6 into thirds, and 6 into penny coins about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 2 cups peeled pearl onions (I use thawed frozen pearl onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch of chervil, leaves chopped, stems reserved
  • 3 juniper berries, crushed (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Procedure

  1. In a wide, deep pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Season the meat well with salt and pepper, and sear the short ribs in the hot oil until crusted and browned on all 6 sides. Set the meat aside, and discard the oil.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon fresh olive oil to the pan, and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the 6 carrots that you have cut into thirds, reserving the copper penny carrots until later. Add the pearl onions, and garlic, and chervil stems, and bay leaves, and juniper berries. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté gently until the garlic is fragrant—about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red wine, and allow it to lift any dark bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Nestle the meat back into the pan with the vegetables, and add the beef stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, and reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After 2 1/2 hours, add in the copper penny carrots. Stir into the broth, and cover, simmering another 30 minutes, so the meat will cook 3 hours in total.
  7. Make a beurre manié by smashing the butter and flour together. Set aside. This step is optional: it turns a runny, brothy sauce into something thick and coating, but you can either omit the thickening agent altogether, use half of it, or use all of it, depending on how you like your stews.
  8. After 3 hours, pull out the large chunks of carrots that have cooked for three hours, and the chervil stems and bay leaves and juniper berries if you can find them. Discard. Skim off as much fat from the surface of the stew as you can.
  9. Add in the beurre manié, if you are using it, and allow the stew to bubble for 5 minutes to thicken. Just before serving, stir in the chervil leaves.

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

French in a Flash: White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips

RECIPE: White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips
White Bean Bisque

White Bean Bisque

I’m in Florida, and it’s freezing! People roll their eyes, but we Floridians are entirely unequipped for this weather. If I were in New York, and it was thirty degrees, I’d wear a coat, maybe some gloves, but down here, it’s a free(zing) for all–I swear I still see t-shirts.

This week’s column will warm you up with minimum effort. I fry window panes of garlic to make garlic chips, and then use some of the garlic-infused oil to sweat out some shallots. Add to that some rosemary, and some canned white beans, a bit of stock or water, and 15 to 20 minutes later, you have soup–soup that’s rich, velvety, and aromatic of Provence, my summer oasis hallucination in this winter desert. You can easily make this more resolution-worthy by cutting out the butter and cream, although then it’d be less like a bisque, and more like bean soup, but I won’t tell…

Garlic Chips

Frying Garlic Chips

As always, click here for the full story and recipe from my column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.

White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips
serves 4

White Bean BisqueIngredients

  • 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 1 quart vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Procedure

  1. In a small saucepot, heat just enough oil to deep fry the garlic chips—about 1/4 cup depending on the size of the pot.  Heat over medium heat.  When hot, add the garlic chips in, and cook until crispy and golden—but not brown and burnt.  Remove the chips to a paper towel with a slotted spoon to cool.  Reserve the oil.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a stock pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot, and sauté gently until just soft—3 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the pot along with the rosemary sprig (leave the leaves on the stem) and the stock or water.  Season with salt and pepper, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil.  When the soup boils, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. After 15 to 20 minutes, remove the rosemary sprig from the soup and discard.  Turn off the heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Stir in the cream—the residual heat of the soup will heat it through.  Serve the garlic chips as a garnish on top.
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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Soup, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Wasabi) Part II: Wasabi Pea-Crusted Seared Tuna

RECIPE: Wasabi Pea-Crusted Seared Tuna
Wasabi Tuna

Wasabi Tuna

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I think it was my unhealthy college years when I first discovered the medicinal properties of seared tuna.Growing up, I used to make my mother cook my tuna steaks absolutely through, so they were splitting at the seams and dry as Bumblebee in a well-drained can.

But after a week of studying finance with an entire thin-crust Domino’s pie every night for a week, I decided it was time for something light. And happily, at a corner Japanese sushi bar, I stumbled upon my treasured “reset” food upon which I’ve relied ever since.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, Fish, Individual, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient