Broiled Provençale Scallops

RECIPE: Broiled Scallops Provençale

Broiled Provençale Scallops

I hate to say it, but I have a real bone to pick with English markets.  And I just don’t understand what the problem is!  I can never find seafood.  Giant shrimp like we have in the States.  Scallops.  Calamari.  Just can’t find them.  But when the kind of downtrodden mini supermarket by my office started stocking “large sea scallops,” I went a little crazy.  (You can expect to see a few more of these recipes!)  I crammed them all together in a little gratin dish along with grape tomatoes.  And then for the topping I whizzed up some of the stash of fresh breadcrumb I keep in the freezer with a clove of garlic, some fresh basil, and butter.  Boom.  Gratin-ed together, the top becomes this kind of pistou-ed crumble, and the scallops and tomatoes together underneath collapse and release all their sweet juices.

Normally, when I’m in Provence and I order seafood, I order moules à la Provençale, which is mussels steamed with tomatoes, garlic, and sometimes basil.  So I thought for these special little scallops, I wanted to take the same flavors, deconstruct them, and build them back up together again.  The tomatoes go in whole with the scallops.  The basil and garlic get to work in the breadcrumbs.  This is one of those recipes that I hope is something of a French Revolution signature: super easy, done in minutes, but with enough chic to warrant some company.

Broiled Scallops Provençale 2

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

Broiled Scallops Provençale
serves 2

Broiled Provençale ScallopsINGREDIENTS

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 14 large sea scallops
  • 16 grape tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Pour a drizzle of olive oil into each of two gratin dishes, and use your fingers to grease the inside of the dish.  Arrange the scallops and tomatoes in an even layer between the two dishes, and season with salt and pepper.

In a mini food processor, blitz together the garlic, basil, and breadcrumbs until completely combined.  Add the Parmesan, butter, salt, and pepper, and blitz until combined.  Divide the basil crumbs over the top of the two gratin dishes.  Place the dishes on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Sunday Night Millionaire’s Spaghetti with Truffles

RECIPE: Millionaire's Spaghetti with Truffles
Millionaire's Spaghetti with Truffles

Millionaire’s Spaghetti with Black Truffles

Last night we came home to London after a whirlwind wedding planning weekend in Paris.  I think if I’m honest, I didn’t want to come down from the high that was the weekend (in Paris!) and face the reality of a work week!  The Sunday night frights were in full force.  So I made something escapist–a bowl of Versailles to dig into–using a little bottle of truffles I found at the supermarket that I squirreled away for just such an occasion as this.  And the great thing was, even though using truffles made it special, it was easy.

Make no mistake: this is decadent.  But that’s what I need sometimes on Sunday nights.  A bit of creamy comfort.  Boil the pasta, and while it’s cooking in its hot salt bath, grate and slice the black truffles.  Drain the pasta, but keep some of the water.  Then, create a really simple, but enveloping sauce but whisking a bit of cold butter into the hot pasta water on the stove.  Finish with some cream and the truffles.  Toss the pasta in all of that goodness, and serve with black truffle oil and good grated Parm alongside.  I made a big salad with just olive oil and balsamic on the side to make me feel better about all the cream.  It worked.  I felt like a million dollars!

Oh, and I should mention, the jar of truffles did not cost a million dollars.  It cost fifteen.  Which isn’t cheap, but considering this feeds four, it’s not too bad compared to what you’d pay in a restaurant.

Millionaire's Spaghetti with Truffles
serves 3 to 4

Millionaire's Spaghetti with TrufflesINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of spaghetti
  • Sea salt
  • 1 50-gram jar of preserved black truffles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup cream
  • A drizzle of black truffle oil
  • Freshly grated good Parmesan

PROCEDURE

Get the pasta cooking in a big pot of boiling salted water—until al dente.  Meanwhile, prepare the truffles.  Grate one on a microplane grater—the same you’d use for the Parmesan.  Then slice the other two (there were three truffles in my 50-gram jar) thinly on a mandoline or with a knife.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.  Add ½ cup of reserved pasta water back into the pasta pot, and put over medium-high heat.  Cut the cold butter into small cubes, and whisk them into the bubbling pasta water a little at a time.  Whisk in the cream, and finally, the grated and sliced truffles.  Season with salt, take off the heat, and add the pasta.  Use tongs to wrap the sauce all around the pasta strands.  If you need to thin out the sauce, you have some extra pasta water with which to do so.  Serve right away (this won’t wait!) with a bowl of grated Parm on the side.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meatless Mondays, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Happy Thanksgiving

The unthinkable has happened!  I woke up this morning, on Thanksgiving, only to go to work!  Such is living in London.  Maman is coming over from the States, and so we will be able to have about half our family set together to do our traditional Champagne ‘I am thankful for…’ toast.  But, as career pursuits in London have robbed me of my usual cooking time, we are doing it in a restaurant!

I will seriously miss the pumpkin pie and stuffing, but since we usually do a half French Thanksgiving, I booked us into a cozy, hearth-warmed French restaurant here in London.  And tomorrow, off to Paris for more eating adventures.  But in the meantime, just know, I am highly jealous of you all back home having real Thanksgivings with real American food.  Please comment and let me know what you’re making or have made so I can live vicariously.  And if you need some last minute inspiration, here are some recipes I hope are worthy of the day.

Thanksgiving Collage

To Start

Turkey

Sides

Desserts

The Morning After

Bon app!

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Categories: Guides
 

An American Appetite in Princeton Alumni Weekly

PAW Illustration

Illustration by Catherine Meurisse

One of my first writing jobs (you know, the kind that actually pay you) was for Princeton Alumni Weekly, writing alumni profiles.  So when they contacted me last month to write a feature essay on anything I wanted about food, I was over the moon.  I thought to myself, “Now I’ve made it!”

I think my editor expected something foreign and fabulous from an ex-pat alum, who spends her life italicizing French dishes and phrases on this blog.  But it was for the November issue, and as always when that time of year rolls around, my thoughts turned homeward.  Many a weeknight will find me raving around my apartment (or, rather, flat), shouting at Mr. English while we try to put together our Ocado order (that’s British for Fresh Direct), in disbelief over the unavailability of key, essential items.  Half sour pickles.  Jumbo shrimp (seriously).  Thick slabs of steak.  Blue cheese dressing.  Corn bread.  Rainbow cookies.

It feels like such a deprivation that when I go home I plan my meals out months ahead of time, and never miss an opportunity for a real American hot dog, or a giant wedge salad, or a ice-packed shrimp cocktail.

The essay will give you my perspective on why, though I left the States and pursued a love for French cooking, American cuisine is not only my absolute favorite, but also on the rise here across the ocean.  Check it out!

http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2012/11/14/perspective/

And a huge thank you to Catherine Meurisse who did the fabulous illustration.  It made me feel like a big timer getting a bespoke illustration, and she couldn’t have captured my sentiments more exactly!

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Niçoise Toasts with Fresh Tuna and Tomatoes

RECIPE: Niçoise Toasts with Fresh Tuna and Tomatoes
Chunky Niçoise Toasts

Chunky Niçoise Toasts

I could reinvent the Niçoise salad a thousand ways, and have.  But what brings me back to it constantly is how punchy it is.  Big flavors.  Big colors.  Big personalities.  This is not a salad of wallflowers–illustrated perfectly by the fact that lettuce is just an afterthought.  Just thick chunks of tuna, briny olives, emphatic little capers, sun-bright lemon.

And that’s what I’ve reduced it to here.  Fresh tuna steaks roasted with salt and olive oil and cut into chunks.  Sweet grape tomatoes, simply halved.  Green and black olives.  Capers for punch.  Olive oil and lemon.  It makes a simple salad, that turns into the topping on this easy tartine.  The only other embellishment on the grilled bread is a swipe of garlic and a simple basil fromage blanc to anchor everything and bring in that taste of Provence.

The taste, even at this time of year, is so fresh and sun-soaked, you can’t help but feel like the sun must be shining somewhere.  Probably in Nice!

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

Niçoise Toasts with Fresh Tuna and Tomatoes
2 servings

Chunky Niçoise ToastsINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fromage blanc
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tuna steaks, 4 to 5 ounces each
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup halved green and black olives
  • 4 teaspoons drained capers in brine
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 1-inch thick slices of rustic bread
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Blitz the basil, fromage blanc, and salt and pepper together in a mini food processor until well combined.  Spoon into a small bowl, and chill until ready to use.

Season the tuna with salt and pepper, and place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Rub with 2 teaspoons of olive oil on all sides.  Bake for 10 minutes, until cooked through.  Cut into cubes.

In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, olives, capers, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper, and gently stir in the chunks of tuna.

Grill or toast the bread, and rub it while it is still hot with the cut side of the garlic clove.  Spread some of the basil fromage blanc over the top, and top with the tuna and tomato mixture.  Serve right away.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series
 

Thanksgiving for Two (or a Few): Rustic Turkey and Vegetable Pie

RECIPE: Rustic Turkey and Vegetable Pie
Rustic Turkey and Vegetable Pie

Rustic Turkey and Vegetable Pie

I love living with Mr. English, just the two of us.  But because living with Mr. English means living in England, Thanksgiving is pretty much also just the two of us.  Actually, this year, there will be three of us, but you get the picture.  No giant roast bird.  No plethora of pies.  No smorgasbord of sides.  It just doesn’t make sense.

But however nontraditional our Thanksgiving is, I still want it to taste traditional!  Because here in the UK, I work on Thanksgiving Thursday, and then come home eager to celebrate my favorite holiday, I had to come up with something that not only felt traditional and American, but was also easy and simple.

Hence, the turkey pie.  A little British accent in our classic Thanksgiving feast.  I use my food processor to jet-slice celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.  I stew them with ground dark meat turkey, fresh mossy thyme, deeply savory Worcestershire sauce, wine, and stock.  They blip together on the stove for a few minutes, and then I effortless spout them off into a beautiful baking dish, cover with puff pastry I bought at the store, paint it with milk, bake it, and voila.  This gorgeous, puffed, steaming meal full of turkey and vegetables and salty, crunchy pastry emerges from the oven, ready to over-stuff me and Mr. English, or to share with our one Thanksgiving guest.

It tastes like home.  It feels hearty.  It’s classic, if a bit different.  And it’s Thanksgiving for just a few in under an hour.  Not too shabby!

Turkey Pie Vegetables

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

Rustic Turkey and Vegetable Pie
serves 2 to 4

Rustic Turkey and Vegetable PieINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 to 9 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground dark meat turkey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • The leaves from 4 stems of thyme
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold
  • Milk for brushing

PROCEDURE

Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cold sauté pan.  Fit the food processor with the thick slicer attachment.  Quickly slice up the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.  Turn the heat on under the sauté pan, and when the oil shimmers, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  While the vegetables are sweating, slice the mushrooms in the same way on the food processor.

When the vegetables are nice and soft, turn them out into a bowl and set aside.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and when it shimmers, add the ground turkey.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the pan is dry and the turkey begins to brown.  Add in the raw mushrooms, and the cooked vegetables.  Stir in the flour to coat everything in the pan.  Add the white wine, and the chicken stock, and Worcestershire sauce, and thyme.  While these cook together for 5 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Turn out the turkey mixture into your baking vessel: I find one rectangular baking dish to be easiest.  Brush the sides of the dish with milk, and drape the pastry tightly across, pressing gently into the milked sides (this will help the pastry stick).  Cut a slit for the steam to escape in the center of the pastry, and then brush all the pastry lightly with milk.  Place the pie on a rimmed baking dish to catch any spills, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden.  Serve hot!

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

Turkey ‘au Vin’

RECIPE: Turkey 'au Vin'
Turkey 'au Vin'

Turkey ‘au Vin’

Growing up in a French-American family, Thanksgiving was always a happy confusion.  Apple cider sorbet with our pumpkin pie.  Gratin Dauphinois instead of mashed potatoes.  Haricots verts instead of regular, sturdy green beans.  And we always, whether it’s considered French or not, start the night with a champagne toast and a list of what we are each thankful for.

I have always been thankful for the transatlantic jumble that is that meal.  Because part of what makes Thanksgiving American is that we come from so many different places, to be together with the same ideals.  So it’s very appropriate that we all sit down to some version of turkey and potatoes and pie, but the accent the turkey has is decidedly different across the households that stitched together form our country.

I have to admit, usually it’s our side dishes that are francophone.  Our turkey is pretty is standard: herb-stuffed and butter-rubbed.  So this year, I am inspired by French takes on turkey.  As our celebration this year here in London will only be three people, we don’t need a giant bird.  So I’m concentrating on my favorite part: the legs.  I was blown away by Suzanne Goin’s turkey leg confit in this month’s Bon Appetit.  And I came up with this version of turkey leg “coq” au vin.

I brown off the drumsticks (two will do for four people), and then the little cubes of pancetta.  In go the mushrooms—I use thickly cut Portobello for texture.  Then whole shallots (who can be bothered with pearl onions when there’s a whole holiday to deal with?), slivered garlic, fresh thyme.  Some flour, some cognac, some wine, and some stock later, and the turkey legs blip away in their little bath until the meat falls off the bone three hours later.

The sauce is thick, and sweet, and savory in that way good coq au vin is.  I serve it with mashed potatoes or buttered gnocchi and a big green salad or my warm roasted shredded Brussels sprouts salad.  It’s definitely for a French-American Thanksgiving, but it also works wonders if, like me, you’re only cooking for a few.  That gives you an excuse to experiment.  Another thing to be thankful for!

Coq au Vin Ingredients

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

Turkey 'au Vin'
serves 4

Turkey 'au Vin'INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 turkey legs (about 3 pounds total)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 1/2 oz pancetta cubes
  • 9 ounces Portobello mushrooms
  • 6 shallots, peeled and whole
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 sprigs of thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

PROCEDURE

In a very wide nonstick skillet or Dutch oven medium-high heat, add the olive oil.  Season the turkey legs with salt and pepper, and add them to the pan.  Brown the turkey legs on all sides.  Then remove them to a plate, and set off to the side.

Add the pancetta to the hot oil, and cook until just crisp.  Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon, and place next to the turkey on the plate off to the side.  Add the mushrooms to the hot oil and cook until they dark and shrunken down—just a couple of minutes.  Add the garlic and shallots and stir through for about 15 seconds.  Then add the flour, and stir to coat everything in the pan.  Then, add the Cognac, and stir it into the vegetables and flour.  Then add the turkey and pancetta back into the pot, and follow with the red wine, chicken broth, and little packet of fresh thyme.  Season the pot with salt and pepper, and bring the liquid to a boil.  Then clamp a lid on the top, and simmer everything together for 3 to 4 hours.  After that, take the lid off and continue to simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Serve with mashed potatoes, or buttered gnocchi or egg noodles.

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