French in a Flash: Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam

RECIPE: Parmesan Pain Perdu with Asparagus and Tomato Jam
Asparagus Pain Perdu

Asparagus Pain Perdu

What’s in a name? A whole lot. Did you ever consider why French fries, French vanilla, or French toast are called “French” in America, but go by completely different names in France itself? French toast, for example, is known as “pain perdu,” or lost bread, because it is recycled day-old bread rejuvenated with the help of a custard and some pert flavors. It is also served as dessert–not for breakfast. This savory version pairs rosemary-roasted asparagus and parmesan with hearty country bread. Top with a savory-sweet homemade tomato jam for a spike of color and flavor.

As always, my French in a Flash series for Serious Eats contains the full text and recipe for this post. Here is this week’s Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam–easy, quick, unusual, unorthodox, and really, really good.

Parmesan Pain Perdu with Asparagus and Tomato Jam
serves 4

Asparagus Pain PerduIngredients

  • 16 asparagus tips
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 1 to 1 ½ inch slices of dense white peasant bread
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Toss the asparagus tips with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Scatter on a baking sheet, and roast for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the half and half, eggs, and Parmesan together in a pie plate, and season with mixture with salt and pepper.
  3. Take 4 cooked asparagus tips, and line them up, facing in alternating directions, on one piece of bread.  Dip the bread in the egg mixture, and, holding the asparagus flat to one side of the bread, flip it over so the asparagus side is also coated.  Press the asparagus into the soggy bread.
  4. Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in the pan, and place 2 pieces of bread, asparagus side down, into the pan.  Sauté low and slow, about 4 minutes per side, pressing down so the bread browns evenly.  Flip when golden, and brown another 4 minutes on the other side.  While it’s cooking on the second side, sprinkle the asparagus side with about a teaspoon or so of Parmesan.  Keep warm in a 200°F oven.  Repeat for the next two slices.  Serve with tomato jam.

Tomato Jam Ingredients

  • 1 pint halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Tomato Jam Procedure

  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pot over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
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Dear Reader

Revolutionnaires, and dear, dear readers:

The French Revolution automated email subscription service, run by FeedBurner, is finally working again. My apologies if you have been receiving emails in doubles, or not at all. You will notice that there is a bar in which to type your email address if you would like to subscribe. If you have any questions as to whether or not you are on the automated service, go ahead and type your email in again in the SUBSCRIBE section at the right. FeedBurner Email Subscriptions will send you a confirmation email, which you must then open and follow the instructions in order to receive French Revolution emails.

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French in a Flash: Parmesan and Gruyère Gougères with Jambon de Bayonne, Arugula, and Dijon-Chive Butter

RECIPE: Parmesan and Gruyère Gougère Sandwiches with Jambon de Bayonne, Arugula, and Dijon-Chive Butter
Parmesan Gougère Sandwiches

Parmesan Gougère Sandwiches

What better time to highlight the absolute greatest ham-and-cheese sandwich? This week on Serious Eats, my French in a Flash is the perfect sandwich for springtime picnics or Mothers’ Day teas: Parmesan and Gruyere Gougères with Jambon de Bayonne, Arugula, and Dijon-Chive Butter. Warm, homemade gougères, or cheesy, savory profiteroles, are the bread on either side of a light Dijon-Chive Butter, baby arugula leaves, and salty, fragrant Jambon de Bayonne, or French prosciutto. The pate a choux in this recipe is so easy, and so versatile: change up the flavorings to make beignets, eclairs, profiteroles, or even other-flavored gougères. It’s time to pig out.

Parmesan and Gruyère Gougère Sandwiches with Jambon de Bayonne, Arugula, and Dijon-Chive Butter
makes 8 to 10 sandwiches

Parmesan Gougère SandwichesSandwich Ingredients

  • 8-10 Parmesan and Gruyère Gougères (recipe follows)
  • Dijon-Chive Butter (recipe follows)
  • 8-10 thin slices of Jambon de Bayonne, Proscuitto di Parma, or Serrano Ham
  • 1 cup of baby arugula leaves
  • 20 chives, halved

Sandwich Procedure

  1. Once the gougères are mostly cool, but still just a bit warm, slice them in half horizontally, revealing the air-pocket within.  Spread each half lightly with the Dijon-Chive butter.  Place one folded slice of ham on the bottom of each gougère, and top with a small handful of baby arugula leaves and chive halves.  Place the gougère lid on top, and <em>voila</em>, your perfect ham and cheese sandwich.

Gougère Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces shredded gruyère (about 1 ½ cups), plus extra for topping the gougères
  • 1 ounce shredded Parmagiano Reggiano (about ½ cup), plus extra for topping the gougères
  • Coarsely cracked black pepper

Gougère Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. To make pâte à choux, or choux pastry, place the stick of butter and the cup of water in a medium sauce pot and put the lid on it.  Bring to a boil.  Take the pot off the heat, then add the salt, sugar, and flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is absorbed into the butter-water mixture.  Lower the heat to medium-low, and return the pan to the heat, stirring the dough continuously for about 30-60 seconds, until the dough comes away from the sides of the pot.
  3. Scoop the dough out of the pot and into a large mixing bowl.  Let stand and cool for about 3 minutes.  Then add one egg at a time, and use a hand mixer to incorporate the eggs into the dough.  At the very end, add in 3 ounces of Gruyère and 1 once of Parmesan.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to mound the gougères onto a parchment-lined baking or cookie sheet.  You should end up with 8-10 gougères, depending on your scoop.  Then top with the remaining Gruyère and Parmesan, and sprinkle with just a touch of coarse cracked black pepper.
  5. Bake the gougères at 400°F for 10 minutes.  Then lower the heat to 350°F and bake another 35-40 minutes, until they are golden, puffed, and hard to the touch.  You don’t want to take them out too early—if you have to return them to the oven, chances are, they’ll deflate a bit.  Place the gougères on a cooling rack.

Dijon-Chive Butter Ingredients

  • 8 chives, snipped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Dijon-Chive Butter Procedure

  1. Stir everything together until combined.
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Categories: Bread & Butter, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Sandwiches, Series
 

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