The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part III: Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

RECIPE: Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

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Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

Pomegranate MolassesIngredient

  • 1 bag of mâche
  • 1 teaspoon grated shallot (from 1 very small shallot)
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

Combine the grated shallot, salt, pepper, vinegar, and molasses in a blender.  Blend to combine.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running.

Remove the dressing to a small bowl, and stir in by hand the mustard.

Dress the mâche with just enough dressing to coat.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part II: Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

RECIPE: Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs
Pomegranate BBQ Ribs

Pomegranate BBQ Ribs

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Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

Pomegranate BBQ RibsPomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 15-ounce container of ketchup
  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper

Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

Mash together the onion and the garlic in a food processor.  I always like to annihilate the garlic first on its own to get it really chopped, then add the ½ onion.

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot on medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Add the thyme, and sweat for 5 minutes on medium low.

Add the ketchup, molasses, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard, cumin, and paprika.  Season again with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs Ingredients

  • 4 pound rack of pork spare ribs or baby backs
  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs Procedure

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper, and put onto a baking sheet, underside up.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Turn the rack over so that it is meat-side up, and bake for 30 minutes.

Glaze the whole rack of ribs with pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce, and bake underside up for 30 minutes.

Raise the heat to 450 degrees F, and while the oven is heating up, reglaze the top, meaty part of the ribs once again.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until charred.

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part I: Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

RECIPE: Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies
Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There is a little something you should know about me: I love to shop. And while my closet can attest to that fact, so can my pantry. When I travel I am always sure to devote at least half a day to culinary pursuits—wandering through markets like the Boqueria in Barcelona, or visiting little gourmet shops in Paris. Inevitably, I return laden with corked perfumiers’ bottles of French rose extract, painters’ tubes of Moroccan harissa, and tiny ominous packets of Venetian squid ink. And when I’m grounded back home in the States, I still find excuses to dally around any corner gourmet shop, combing the aisles like a pirate who stands on the X on his map and expects, rightly so, to uncover unprecedented treasure.

I get a secret thrill when I bring out of these little bottles or jars, and guinea pig them on my friends and family. Inevitably, eyes widen in delight and speculation, and a general chorus echoes down the table: “Mmm! What is that?” I love revealing the answer: “Orange flower water!” “No!” “Yes.” All of a sudden everyone at the table feels like they are sharing in a gourmet adventure, whisked away to some corner of a forgotten world where everyone sits around snacking on orange flower water and Raz-el-Hanout. What they don’t know is that I paid less than three dollars for a bottle of the stuff just across town at Fairway.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Desserts, Eat, Pastry, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche
Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème Fraîche

Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème Fraîche

I didn’t know this about myself before, but I’m cheap. At least, these days it’s quite a la mode to be a recessionista. I went to the store to do this week’s French in a Flash for Serious Eats, and realized I was making dinner for 5 for about $12. I became totally ecstatic, like I’d just gotten away with the hugest deal of the century, and I wanted to run out of Publix before anyone caught on. Stingy never felt, or tasted, so good!

Puy Lentils

Puy Lentils

I made this dish for my father, because according to Brillat-Savarin (the French genius behind the statement “you are what you eat”), my father is a salmon disguised as a New York lawyer. He eats it every night, and he also can’t boil water. I wanted to show him that he could eat his favorite healthy food, and still make it himself. Voila! Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche.

Salmon and lentils are Fred and Ginger to the French; the perfect pas de deux partners. And nothing could be healthier, or easier, or more impressive. Bon app!

Salmon and Lentil Ingredients

Salmon, Lemon, Carrot, Shallot, Thyme, and Lentils

Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche
serves 4

Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème FraîcheIngredients

  • 1 small carrot, diced as finely as possible
  • 2 small shallots, diced as finely as possible
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Leaves of 2 stems fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups lentils du Puy
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, skin on, cut into 4 portions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Fresh thyme, lemon slices, and mixed olives for garnish

Procedure

  1. Begin by making the lentils. Over medium-low heat, sauté the carrots and shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season them with the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, until they are just sweating and soft and fragrant.
  2. Add in the lentils, and season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Increase the heat to high, and pour in the white wine. Stir, and cook until the wine is absorbed. Add the stock or water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low, keep covered, and cook for around 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still have a good bite to them, and hold their shape. Drain out any excess liquid, and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the parsley. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. For the salmon, season the fillets with salt and pepper on both sides, and paint the soft butter on the skin side of the salmon. Use all of it, even if it looks excessive. This is what makes the skin so crispy and perfect.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat, and add the 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it shimmers, carefully add the salmon, skin side down. It will splatter a bit, so drop the salmon into the pot slowly, and away from you. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn over, and cook for 3 minutes, or until you've achieved desired doneness.
  6. While the salmon cooks, prepare the mustard crème fraîche. Stir together the crème fraîche, 2 mustards, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve this dish, spoon a mound of the lentils on a plate, and perch the salmon on top. Spoon the crème fraîche over the hot fish, and let it melt into the filet and into the lentils. Serve more sauce alongside. Garnish with a few lemon slices, some fresh twigs of thyme, and a few mixed olives.

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

Spring Chicken for Mothers’ Day on the BBC: Norman Apple Poussin with Baby Spring Vegetables

Norman Apple Hens

Norman Apple Hens

How many times has your mother told you she’s no spring chicken? My maman tells me, usually, when I’m home, and she wants me to walk the dog, or run to the store, or lift something heavy–otherwise, to her chagrin, she is very spring chickenly. If your mom is like mine, make her feel young again on UK Mother’s Day! Make her spring chicken.

When Joel at the BBC asked me to do a Mothers’ Day menu, I considered it a very important, special assignment. I’m not sure there’s a better way to make the day special for maman than by doing what she’s always traditionally done for you: cooking. I would advise, of course, that you also purchase some jewelry, and tuck it into her cloth napkin. That never hurts.

The idea for this meal comes from the dichotomy of mother hen, and baby vegetables. Think of all the roast chickens your mother has made for you in your life. Cornish hens, or poussins, taste very similar to chicken, but can be elegantly and individually portioned. That’s the idea: take something simple, everyday, with which you’re familiar, and dress it up. I make this in the style of Normandy, coincidentally where my stepfather is from. Hey, if she likes one think from Normandy, chances are she’ll like another! I marinate the poussins overnight in cidre buche, a dry sparkling (and inexpensive) apple cider packed in Champagne bottles in Normandy. Then, I roast it with thyme, pancetta, and Calvados, an apple brandy, along with little pearl onions (what little girl hasn’t worn her mother’s pearls?) that become sweet little gems.

Because the dainty little hens are butterflied, they crisp up front and back, and stay overwhelmingly moist and flavorful from the apple liquors and the pancetta. To go with them, because Mothers’ Day falls just days after the start of spring, I put together a panoply of baby vegetables–from tiny zucchini and sunburst squash to spring peas and Chantenay carrots. They are simply braised with water and butter, and made decadent with creme fraiche. Everything here is dainty, flavorful, light, and, above all, thoughtful, but easy. This is actually one of the easiest meals I’ve ever created, and one of the ones of which I am most proud–proving that you don’t have to work too hard to make a dinner that is as special as your mom always made you feel.

Spring Vegetables with Crème Fraîche and Chives

Spring Vegetables with Crème Fraîche and Chives

Dedicated to toutes les mamans! Bonne journée…

To catch the replay of this episode on Joel Hammer’s BBC Radio Oxford Sunday Lunch, visit BBC’s iPlayer. Today’s show should be up later today, or early tomorrow. I hope you enjoy, and that you make this incredible Norman hens! The website with playback links and the recipes is not up yet, but I am assured it will be up by the next installment.

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French in a Flash: Crème Fraîche Cupcakes with Provence Lavender Icing

RECIPE: Crème Fraîche Cupcakes with Lavender
Lavender Cupcakes

Lavender Cupcakes

It had been a long drive, and we were famished. I leaned back in the wrought iron chair, and plucked another fry from the red carton. I closed my eyes to the sun, and when I opened them again, I knew I was in France. Lavender was growing in the McDonald’s parking lot.

Lavender from Provence

Lavender from Provence

I know what I just wrote; please don’t judge me. Yes, I passed up a perfectly good opportunity to eat French food in France, and I went to McDonald’s. But in my mind, any road trip gives me license to enjoy fast food, and I tend to take advantage of my little maxim–even if it’s a road trip to Provence. At least I ordered French fries.

Lavender Cupcake IngredientsLavender is ubiquitous in Provence (yes, even at McDonald’s), and I use it in this star-treatment-for-boxed-cake-mix recipe for Serious Eats: Crème Fraîche Cupcakes with Provence Lavender Icing . Hey, French in a Flash is all about fast food, from McDonald’s, to Duncan Hines. The point is to personalize it, make it your own, and make it good. I alter the package directions by using creme fraiche, which makes the crumbs light as air, and make an oh-so-simple glaze with sugar, water, and dried lavender blossoms. Truly French in a flash…bon app!

Lavender Zoom

Crème Fraîche Cupcakes with Lavender
makes about 20 cupcakes

Lavender CupcakesIngredients

  • 1 box classic white cake mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces crème fraîche
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried edible lavender blossoms
  • 5 tablespoons water

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake papers that you think complements the color of lavender. I used pastel pink and blue. Prim and lovely. Purple, if you find it, would of course be ideal. Treat your cupcakes as if they were Parisians: they should dress to their advantage.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, and crème fraîche with a hand-held mixer on a low speed, until the cake mix just disappears into the batter. Then, turn up the speed to medium, and combine for 3 more minutes.
  3. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, 3/4 of the way up. Set the muffin tins on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden and puffed up.
  4. Meanwhile, make the lavender glaze. Stir together the sugar, lavender, and water until you have a smooth icing.
  5. Once the cupcakes have baked, let them cool slightly in the muffin tins, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. If you ice them while they are still hot, the icing will melt, run off the cupcakes, and the only thing that will taste of sweet lavender is you counter top.
  6. When the cupcakes are completely cool, and not a moment before, drizzle them with the lavender icing. Allow the glazed cupcakes to sit and set for 15 minutes, then serve, preferably with some Marquis Grey Tea. (Just put some lavender into a tea ball, and then drop it along with some Earl Grey tea bags into a tea pot full of hot water. You can also do this alongside Chamomile Tea—even more calming for an upset stomach.)
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Madeline’s Madeleines

RECIPE: Blueberry Madeleines

 

Blueberry Madeleines

Blueberry Madeleines

My mother spent a year living, as a child, in a French convent—one where they wore little matching uniforms, slept in iron beds, and walked in straight lines two-by-two. She spent her childhood mornings as Madeline. It is no miracle, then, that my childhood mornings were ignited by plump, firm, sunny little Madeleines.

The only reason I managed to plod through Proust in the original during an unfortunate summer course in college was because he was talking about Madeleines. Just a spoonful, or bite full, of sugar helps the medicine go down! Proust was half asleep dreaming of Madeleines, and I was half asleep staring out the sunny windows, dreaming of being anywhere but here. But I did take something away from his drowsy ruminations: that maybe it is not just Proust, but all Gauls, whose childhood remembrances percolate around Madeleines.

 

Maman was never much of a baker, which was really too bad because when she put her mind to it, her pumpkin cheesecakes would keep me up nights (she always baked them at the bewitching hour—maybe she needed a few spells to work her magic). So, instead of Easter Egg or scavenger hunts, we had Madeleine hunts, which in Manhattan in 1988 was no small feat. We would troll the local grocery stores and gourmet shops, stalking our prey. And how we would pounce! We would load our baskets with the wrapped shells, treasuring each of our fortune as if mighty Aphrodite would slam open the top, and step out into the foaming plastic waves. What treasure, what decadence, what fun.

 

Madeline BookWe would come home, and descend upon the shells, like a flock of gulls pecking at a million little dinners in the million little grains of sand. We would lie in bed with Madeline books and eat Madeleines. Of course, I was never long without either a book or food, and like so many great things, they often went together. The crumbs would trickle from our lips, break off like jagged precipices from the ragged edges of our half-munched cakes, and form irreverent, very Madeline-like Madeleine spines in the books. We would laugh and sputter, and it would all be worse. We would brush the crumbs from the covers, and wake up from our Dionysian fête, remarking all the empty Madeleine wrappers. We would rub our bellies and grumble, how we were ever going to do it again? But we knew, before too long, we’d be Madeleine hunting again. We ate the sparse, stale leftovers with raspberry confiture for breakfast for days, before I donned my little matching uniform, and we headed, the two of us, for school.

 

But as maman always says, there is no time like the present. I’d had enough of my recherche du temps perdu, and wanted to try a little recherche du temps trouvé. You can long for old flames who’ve moved on, for a pet that’s passed away, for a Petit Bateau t-shirt that’s shrunk to fit bébé and not you anymore. But Madeleines, my little Proustian morsels, they never leave you for another woman, they never die, and they only shrink if you make them in smaller Madeleine pans (and even then, you just get more Madeleines from the same recipe). If only all of life could be cooked up in my kitchen.

Blueberry Madeleine BatterI could never recreate those crumbly-firm lemon-vanilla seashell muffins that were shrunk-wrapped in the 1980s, so I one-upped them: fresh lemon-blueberry Madeleines, cakey enough for French Marie Antoinette, and enough like a blueberry muffin for little American me. A little powdered sugar on top, and suddenly childhood relics are vintage breakfast treasures.

So raise a cup of coffee, and chin-chin.
To times lost, and found.

Blueberry Madeleines

Blueberry MadeleinesIngredients

  • 1 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsaltedbutter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries, lightly tossed with flour, with the excess shook off

A Note on Madeleines

Madeleines are a traditional shell-shaped cake from the north of France, although they have become iconic to the entire nation. Traditionally, they taste of lemon, and are the texture of pound cake. Aside from the Madeleine pans, which you will have to buy, you probably already have all the ingredients for Madeleines in your house: flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, butter. And you can flavor them with anything you want, from blueberries to coconut, from cocoa to pistachios to verbena. I buy my nonstick Madeleine pans at Williams-Sonoma, and if you are looking for one, I know they sell them there.

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate, large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer or stand mixer for about 30 seconds, until they are frothy. Add the sugar, and cream for about 5 minutes, until the mixture triples its volume.
  4. Add the dry ingredients slowly, in batches, to the wet ones, and mix them slowly in. If you have your mixer on too fast a setting, the flour will be in the air instead of in the batter. Add the lemon zest and the butter, and incorporate.
  5. Put the mixer away and gently fold the blueberries into the batter. You want to dust them with flour so they stay suspended in the batter, and also so that their juice is absorbed as they bake, so that the Madeleines will maintain their firm texture.
  6. Spray your Madeleine pans with a nonstick cooking spray just in case. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each mold and bake for 15-17 minutes. The edges of each Madeleine should be crisp and a toothpick inserted should come out clean of batter. Do not be alarmed if the molds do not look full and the batter does not look even before you bake these. They will settle and puff up on their own. Transfer the shells to a cooling rack and eat as many as you can immediately, making as much of a mess as possible. True Madeline style.
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