Egging Me On

EB EggsHere’s something to egg on the French Revolution: my crustless quiche recipe is officially up on the Eggland’s Best website as this month’s featured recipe. Please check it out: you can rate the recipe and leave comments and, of course, explore the rest of EB’s site. Merci!

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French in a Flash: Multigrain Spaghetti with Pistou Forestier

RECIPE: Multigrain Spaghetti with Pistou Forestier
Mushroom Pistou Pasta

Mushroom Pistou Pasta

No matter what I say, I guess I do like a bit of drama in my life. Take my relationship with mushrooms, for instance. Up and down, up and down, year in, year out. (For the full saga, read the article text and recipe at Serious Eats.) But right now, I’m head over heels in love.

Mr. English hates mushrooms. Ha! I know he’s just jealous.

Mushrom Pasta IngredientsThis week for French in a Flash on Serious Eats, I married two French culinary concepts: pistou and forestier, in my Multigrain Spaghetti with Pistou Forestier. Pistou is similar to a pesto, and forestier is a term given to a dish flavored with wild mushrooms. So, I made a roasted wild mushroom pistou, flavored with parsley, thyme, and sage. It is studded with parmesan and walnuts, sweetened with garlic and shallots, and spiked with creme fraiche. On top, I place crisps of Jambon de Bayonne, French prosciutto, and flash-fried herb chips made from sage and parsley leaves. And that’s not all. For the real old-time, peasant-glam, truffle-snouting pig touch common to all dishes “forestier,” the nutty multigrain pasta is finished off with a drizzle of truffle oil. It’s an original. Healthy enough for the family dinner table, fancy enough for a seated party. Magnifique.

Bon app!

Multigrain Spaghetti with Pistou Forestier
serves 4 to 6

Mushroom Pistou PastaIngredients

  • 1 pound of multigrain spaghetti (recommended: Barilla Plus)
  • 3 cups of pistou forestier (recipe follows)
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • 6 slices of crispy jambon de Bayonne, Prosciutto, or Serrano ham (recipe follows)
  • 20 herb chips (recipe follows)
  • A drizzle of truffle oil

Procedure

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it like the sea.  Add the spaghetti, and stir, boiling it until it is cooked, but still has a good bite to it.  You’ll want to taste it about 2 minutes shy of the package-directed cooking time.  Drain, but reserve about a cup of water to use for the sauce.
  2. In the bottom of a large bowl, stir together the pistou forestier, the crème fraîche, and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water.  Add the spaghetti, and toss.  At this point, you will probably need to add another ¼ cup of pasta water for the sauce to really thin and coat the pasta.  But use your judgment, and as much pasta water as you like.
  3. Delicately mound the Multigrain Spaghetti with Pistou Forestier in a large serving bowl.  Drizzle lightly with truffle oil.  Arrange the crisp slabs of jambon de Bayonne all around the pasta like a crown, and scatter the herb chips all around.  Et voila!  Dinner is served.

Pistou Forestier Ingredients

  • 12 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster), roughly chopped or sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon, plus ¾ cup
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped or sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Pistou Forestier Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Arrange the mushroom rubble on a foil-lined baking sheet, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the herbes de Provence, and a good amount of cracked black pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the shallots.  Add the rings to a small sauté pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and season with a touch of salt.  Cook on low heat just a few minutes, until the shallots are just soft and translucent.
  4. In a food processor, combine the roasted mushrooms, the sweet shallots, the raw garlic, the walnuts, the white wine, and the parsley, sage, and thyme.  Season vigorously with salt and pepper.  Pulse to break up all the components.  Then drizzle in ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil, pulsing as you go, until you have a course mushroom gravel.  You want to maintain a certain delicate chunkiness—you don’t want mushroom pâté.
  5. Decant the pistou to a bowl, and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Jambon de Bayonne Crisps Ingredients

  • 6 thin slices of jambon de Bayonne, Prosciutto, or Serrano ham (about 4 ounces)

Jambon de Bayonne Crisps Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a nonstick or foil-lined baking sheet, lay out the slices of ham in a single layer, trying as much as possible to keep them intact as you peel them apart.  Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on how thick the slices are.  You want the ham to resemble a chip—crisp throughout.  Allow to cool, then gently remove from the tray with a spatula.  Arrange the ham crisps whole on top of the pasta, and then crumble in to eat.

Herb Chips Ingredients

  • 15-20 leaves of sage
  • 15-20 leaves of flat leaf parsley
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt

Herb Chips Procedure

  1. In a small sauté pan, heat just about ½ an inch of oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Pluck the leaves from the stems of the fresh herbs—choose large, intact leaves where you can.
  3. Place about 10-15 leaves into the oil one at a time, and fry until crisp but not brown, 30-60 seconds.  And stand back—when you add the leaves to the oil, the water in the herbs will make the hot oil pop.
  4. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.  Lightly salt, just like chips.
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Categories: 60 Minutes, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches
 

French Revolution is on Twitter!

I know that my generation is supposed to be at the forefront of the modern technological revolution. But frankly, French Revolution is as far as I thought I’d ever go. And now, I’m facing the final frontier.

French Revolution is on Twitter!

Don’t miss a tweet. Subscribe to FrenchRev right now. The link and details are on the righthand sidebar under “Twitter.”

So, what’ll it be? Trick, or tweet?

I vote the latter.

In other technological news, I’ve decided to send out my posts to subscribers as a weekly newsletter. So, instead of receiving an email every time I post, you’ll receive one weekly with all that week’s posts included. This can only last as long as FeedBurner remains down, but I thought we’d give it a try. I also understand that some subscribers have been receiving double emails! I am trying to sort this all out. I apologize for any frustrating inbox overloads! And do let me know your opinions on the issue.

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The Chicken or the Egg?

RECIPE: Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre
Fines Herbes Crustless Quiche

Fines Herbes Crustless Quiche

It’s an age-old question. But I’ve finally answered it.

The chicken. Who would scramble up your morning eggs if not for the mother hen in your life? Do we really want all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put Humpty back together again? Then we’d have no omelets!

A month ago, I posted a recipe for Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre. And I told you I was entering it as a contestant in the First Annual Eggland’s Best Bloggers recipe contest. I’ve never entered a recipe contest before in my life.

But, Revolutionnaires: We won FIRST PLACE!

The recipe will be featured on the Eggland’s Best website for a month. And in honor of our little victory, I thought I’d answer some more age-old egg questions by sharing some very interesting information that I gleaned at the Eggland’s Best Bloggers Breakfast for Dinner event on Tuesday evening.

Kerry and EB White

Me with EB White, my new stuffed egg. His Humpty Dumpty head is stamped with EB for Eggland's Best and he's white. How cute is he!?

Egg Mysteries Unraveled

As it turns out, the only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is the breed of chicken (proving, once again, the chicken before the egg). And, while I thought brown eggs were always chosen for organic packaging, it turns out that brown egg-laying chickens are more aggressive than the white, and so are better at surviving in a cage-free environment. Interesting!

In Europe, I’ve noticed that the eggs sit on the shelf, not in the fridge. Why is that? Aha! It is because in Europe, they do not wash their eggs before selling them. If you do wash them, as we do here in the States, that causes potential permeation of the shell, and so the eggs must be kept chilled.

Apparently, some cooks wash their eggs when they bring them home from the store. It can compromise your egg! Just rinse them off quickly, if at all, right before you use them.

Fines Herbes Crustless QuicheAs I’ve said before: size isn’t everything. As it turns out, the smaller the egg, the higher the quality. Medium-sized eggs will have firm whites and more intact yolks than large, extra-large, or jumbo.

Chickens actually have a higher mortality rate in a cage-free environment, and an even higher mortality rate in an organic environment. Shy chickens can often be pecked, and cage-free coops keep a man walking around to keep the wall-flowers safe. Organic eggs are the only grade of egg that requires outdoor time for the chickens–giving them healthy freedom, but also exposure to more disease.

And, last, something I learned not Tuesday from Eggland’s Best, but last summer from Ecole Lenotre: using older eggwhites produces a stiffer meringue. If you separate your whites the night before, and leave them in the fridge, chances are your macarons will turn out better!

If you feed a chicken marigold, her yolks will be yellow. If you feed her red pepper, they’ll be orange!

As it turns out, victory isn’t sweet. In this case, it was very savory indeed. And very high in protein.

Bon app!

Kerry and EB White

Looks like I've fallen for Humpty Dumpty.

Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre
serves 4

Fines Herbes Crustless QuicheIngredients

  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chervil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly snipped chives
  • 2 ounces chèvre (soft fresh goat cheese)
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Whisk together the eggs and the milk, and season with salt and pepper. Beat in the herbs and the Parmesan.
  2. Ladle the mixture a scant ¼ cup at a time in a well-greased 12-cup muffin tin, so that each cup is almost full.
  3. Dollop the goat cheese evenly among the 12 cups.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-22 minutes, until all the quiches appear puffy and firm.
  5. Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes, then loosen with a knife and serve hot or room temperature.
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Categories: 30 Minutes, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, Eggs, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Preserved Lemons) Part III: Preserved Lemon Chicken

RECIPE: Preserved Lemon Chicken

 

Preserved Lemon Chicken

Preserved Lemon Chicken

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Preserved Lemon Chicken
serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces, about 4-4 1/2 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 or 2 small preserved lemons, thinly sliced, seeded, and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • Chervil Gremolata (recipe follows)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Zest 1/2 orange
  • Zest 1/2 lemon
  • 2 stems fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

When you buy a whole chicken cut up into pieces, you will get 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 legs. Because the breasts are so much bigger than the other pieces, I cut them each in half, cutting perpendicularly through the bone. Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil.

Heat a wide, deep sauté pan over medium heat, and when the pan is hot, add the oil. Place the chicken in the hot pan, and sear until golden brown. Turn over, and sear until golden brown on the other side. Remove to a plate.

Lower the heat to low, and add the preserved lemons, garlic, and citrus zests. Quickly stir them around in the hot oil, and then add the white wine. Raise the heat to high, and use a whisk to pick up all the pieces of crisp chicken from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, and season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken pieces back into the pot, and when the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes more. Take the pan off the heat, and move the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Whisk 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche into the hot wine and stock, then pour over the chicken. Top with the Chervil Gremolata (recipe follows) and serve with crusty baguette or colorful couscous.

Chervil Gremolata

Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of the hot Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken.

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Categories: Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

The Secret Ingredient (Preserved Lemons) Part II: Parmesan, Preserved Lemon, and Thyme Wafers

RECIPE: Parmesan, Preserved Lemon, and Thyme Wafers
Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Parmesan, Preserved Lemon, and Thyme Wafers
makes 9 wafers
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon (about 1/2 small preserved lemon)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the finely chopped preserved lemon pieces in a mesh strainer, and rinse very well. Dry on paper towels, and pat very dry.

Mix together the dry lemon pieces, the Parmesan, and the chopped fresh thyme leaves. On a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, heap little tablespoon mounds of the cheese mixture, leaving room for them to spread as they melt, and bake in the oven for 4 or 5 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet, then lift off with a spatula and allow to rest on paper towels.

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The Secret Ingredient (Preserved Lemons) Part I: Preserved Lemon Semifreddo with Basil Syrup

RECIPE: Preserved Lemon Semifreddo with Basil Syrup
Preserved Lemon Semifreddo

Preserved Lemon Semifreddo

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

My grandmother was born in Casablanca, Morocco, just in time for the era of Rick’s Café Americain. I think glamor must have been one of the components of Casablanca’s municipal water in the 1940s, and my grandmother must have imbibed a lot of it. By the time she was six years old, she was fluent in French, Arabic, and Hebrew. How fortuitous for me–not linguistically, but culinarily. It is a lucky few who go to grandma’s for couscous and mint tea.

Mémé (that’s “Nana” in French) was, and is, something of a femme fatale. And every woman will tell you that the secret to allure is mystery. I think certain things, like her natural hair color and the dimensions of her still-narrow waist, are a mystery even to Mémé herself. And she guards some of the secrets to her cuisine as closely as she does the name of her perfume.

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Categories: Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient