Hi, This is Kerry, and You’re Listening to BBC Radio

Kerry at the BBC

Kerry at the BBC

I always thought you had to be like Rihanna to be asked to record one of those radio station statements. But a couple of weeks ago, I sat in the studio at BBC Radio Oxford, and smiled into the mic, “Bonjour! This is Kerry Saretsky, New York’s Freshest French Foodie, and You’re Listening to BBC Radio Oxford.”

This came on the tails of two days of food shopping, lugging, cooking, recording, and finally, eating. When my dear friend Charlotte pitched the idea of my French food as a feature on the Sunday morning show at the BBC, I was shocked when they scooped it right up. They ordered a four-part four-course meal, as well as meals for Easter, Mothers’ Day, and Fathers’ Day. Including an interview, that was a total of eight shows. I jumped up and down ten times. Then I collapsed in panic. I had no idea what to make.

In Sarah's kitchen, making the second course

I thought back to my own time at Oxford, while I was reading for my master’s in twentieth century English and American literature, and I thought about all that I had tasted, and more importantly, all that I had craved. Uncharacteristically, I was always craving a roast. One time, Mr. English and I picked up a joint of lamb from Sainsbury’s at eight o’clock, stuck it in the oven with some olive oil and rosemary, and we both went back to studying, as we had all day. All that kept me going through each tedious sentence was knowing that the roast would soon be awaiting my arrival, and I would finally eat something substantial. After about an hour and a half, Mr. English and I trotted expectantly downstairs to check on its progress, and we realized, the oven had broken. It was raw, and I spent another night sobbing into a Pizza Express takeout box. Shameful.

Kerry and Joel Hammer

With Joel Hammer, cooking for our moms

So, I knew I had to make something meaty, and something comforting. I knew I wanted it to be French, as ever, but have a distinctly English, instead of my usual American, accent. I wanted to take advantage of all the amazing imported French foods, mostly from Normandy, that cheaply populate all English shops. And quickly, my menu, always an ode to France, now also a little love song to Oxfordshire, began to take shape. I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you what all of the meals are now, but I will give you some hints. The four-course meal, because I wanted it to be comfort food, is a series of chic renditions of some of France’s oldest peasant food, with some very English ingredients. The Mothers’ Day meal paddles straight over from Normandy. The Fathers’ Day meal is, of course, meat and potatoes. And Easter is traditional with a twist. I have never worked so hard at perfecting any recipes as I have these, so I promise you, you will love them.

Happier than ever, at BBC studios

The shows starting airing this Sunday morning on BBC Radio Oxford, part of Joel Hammer’s Sunday Morning Brunch. This week’s is an interview with me, how I got started in food, where I hope to take my career, where I find my inspiration. Each week, I’ll let you know what’s coming up, and give you an inside peek at the show. Listen in, and let them know you love it!

All in all, what an experience it all was. I shopped all over London for the ingredients, and all over Oxford. I lugged pots and pans around and around to my friend Sarah’s kitchen, after Mr. English’s was drowned in a washing machine deluge. I cooked for two straight days, making the befores, the middles, the afters, for the short radio recordings. I bantered with a DJ. I loved every second. If making cooking shows is this much fun, count me in for life.

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Categories: BBC Radio Recipes, Series
 

French in a Flash: Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pies with Roasted Lemon

RECIPE: Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pies
Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pie

Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pie

There is nothing more French than Coquilles St. Jacques. And nothing more American than apple…ok, in this case, pot…pie. I am both, and to me, nothing represents the French Revolution philosophy more effectively than this dish. It began with my maman’s family recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques, a traditional French dish of scallops, bedded down in their shells, blanketed with cream and mushrooms, and roasted. She got them drunk on Vermouth for good measure. I reinvent the old family dish, covering it with store-bought puff pastry, giving a nod to my American upbringing, et voila, Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pie is born, like me and the Statue of Liberty, a child of both France and of America. This week’s French in a Flash on SeriousEats is traditional, but irreverent and inventive, cozy enough for these last, tenacious winter nights, and easy enough to impress without any bother. I do hope you’ll try them. Bon app!

Coquilles St Jacques Pot Pie Inside

Coquilles St. Jacques Pot Pies
serves 4

Coquilles St. Jacques Pot PieIngredients

  • 20 sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1/2 tablespoon
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces of mixed, chopped mushrooms, including cremini, shitake, and oyster
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 sheets thawed frozen puff pastry
  • Egg wash, made from 1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk, beat together
  • Herbs for decorating the pastry, including a few leaves of: sage, basil, chervil, parsley, thyme, or whatever you like
  • 2 lemons
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • As always, salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. In a sauce pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms, and season with only pepper--not salt just yet. Adding salt now would cause the mushrooms to weep their moisture (wouldn't you, if you were salted and in a hot pot?), and if they weep, they won't caramelize and maximize their flavor. Cook the vegetables on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the mushrooms really start to sear and caramelize. Then, season them with salt.
  2. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to the pot, and then the 3 tablespoons flour. Whisk to combine, and scare away any lumps. Lower the heat to medium-low, and stir to make a mushroomy roux. Cook for 1 minutes, to chase away that raw flour taste.
  3. Decant in maman's vermouth, and stir until the flour absorbs it. Add in the wine and clam juice next, and finally the half and half. Whisk like you mean it. Season again with salt, and a good bit of black pepper. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens. 
The way to tell if a béchamel sauce has thickened is to dip a wooden spoon into the sauce. Run your finger down the back of the spoon. If you leave a distinct stripe, the sauce is thickened. If the sauce just pours back over the spot you touched, it is still too loose. If you find that your sauce never seems to want to achieve its maximum béchamel potential, make a beurre manié, or "handled butter," by combining 1/2 tablespoon butter with one tablespoon flour with a fork. Stir it into the sauce, and that should help it thicken up.
  4. Meanwhile, grease 4 individual gratin dishes. I use nonstick cooking spray, but if you're not lazy, you could use butter. Place 5 scallops in each of the gratin dishes, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roll out the puff pastry just slightly, and use a saucer to cut out rounds that just fit over the tops of the gratin dishes, with a slight bit of room to overhang.
  6. Pour one ladle full of the hot mushroom cream sauce into each gratin dish, smatter with the grassy parsley, and then cover with one circle of puff pastry, gently pushing the pastry onto the gratin dishes, sealing in the scallops. Take a paring knife and cut 4 little steam vents apple pie-style into the center of the pastry. Brush the pastry with egg wash, and arrange whole fresh herb leaves on top to decorate, as pictured.
  7. Set the pot pies onto baking sheets. I also like to serve roasted lemons with the pies. I cut off the extremities of the lemon, and then cut the lemon in half. I sit them on their smaller flat sides on the baking sheets with the pies, their broader flat sides facing up, and drizzle them with just a kiss of olive oil. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden and the sauce is bubbling like a cauldron underneath.
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Categories: Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

French in a Flash: Sea Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou, Crab, and Sweet Peas

RECIPE: Sea Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou, Crab, and Sweet Peas
Shells with Crab and Tarragon Pistou

Shells with Crab and Tarragon Pistou

This week, French in a Flash sets sail, with my dinnertime version of She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore: Sea Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou with Crab and Sweet Peas.

Pistou, as you may have guessed, is the French version of pesto, but without the nuts. I modernize it, and give it sea legs, with tarragon, an anise-y French herb so often paired with crab or shrimp or lobster. Cream and petite pois give it a sweet finish. A glamorous Riviera dinner just got easy peasy. Bon app!

Shells with Crab and Tarragon Pistou Ingredients

Sea Shells with Creamy Basil-Tarragon Pistou, Crab, and Sweet Peas
serves 4

Shells with Crab and Tarragon PistouIngredients

  • 1 pound sea shell pasta
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 ounces basil, the leaves of which will equal about 1 cup packed
  • The leaves from 4 stems tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen petite peas
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat

Procedure

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it, and add in the pasta shells. Stir, and cook until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pistou. Obliterate the garlic clove in the food processor, and then add the basil and tarragon leaves. Pulse to chop. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, and a good amount of salt. Run the machine and drizzle in the olive oil. Decant the pistou to a bowl, and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  3. Once you've drained the pasta, put the pot back on the stove on low heat. Add in the cream, pistou, peas, and crab meat. Make sure you go through the crab meat to make sure there are no shells, and to break it up a bit. Toss and heat through.
  4. Add the pasta back into the pot, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches
 

French in a Flash: Roquefort and Walnut Stuffed Roasted Pears with Sauterne Syrup

RECIPE: Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Roasted Pears with Sauterne Syrup
Roquefort Roasted Pears

Roquefort Roasted Pears

This week’s French in a Flash on SeriousEats.com is Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Pears with Sauterne Syrup. The legend behind Roquefort is that a shepherd left his lunch in a cave when he spied a beautiful maiden in the distance. When he returned to his baguette, his cheese had gone bleu. What is more French than old cheese and new romance? And did you know that the Latin name the Romans gave the walnut means Gallic Nut, or Nut from France? In this recipe, I stuff both the woodsy, chunky, crunchy walnuts and the soft, piquant, tie-dyed Roquefort into the cavities of Bosc or Bartlett pears. They roast in the oven until the pears’ flesh is soft and sweet, the nuts are toasted, and the cheese is bubbling. Then over the top I drizzle a simple syrup made from the iconic French dessert wine Sauterne. Serve it for a starter, a lunch, a dessert, or a cheese course, and you look like a hero. No one will ever know all you had to do was stick it in the oven. Bon app!

Roquefort Roasted Pears Ingredients

Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Roasted Pears with Sauterne Syrup
makes 1 pear, and enough syrup for 4

Roquefort Roasted PearsPear Ingredients

  • 1 Bosc pear, ripe, but not overly soft, halved and hulled with a melon baller
  • 1/2 teaspoon light olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Roquefort
  • 1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sauterne
  • Thyme, for garnish (optional)

Sauternes Syrup Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Sauterne
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the pear by slicing it in half and then removing the core with a melon baller. Rub with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the pear halves in an individual gratin dish.
  3. Make the filling by combining the Roquefort with the walnuts. Mound into the cavities of the pear halves. Pour 1 or 2 tablespoons of Sauternes in the bottom of the gratin dish.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until the pear halves are soft, and the cheese bubbly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the Sauternes syrup by bringing the Sauternes and sugar to a boil. Whisk until the mixture is clear—all the sugar will have dissolved. The process does not take very long at all. Set aside to cool while the pears are cooking. When the pears are ready, simply drizzle with syrup and serve.
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Roses are Red…:The Raspberry Rose Royale

RECIPE: Raspberry Rose Royale
Raspberry Rose Royale

Raspberry Rose Royale

…and how can I be blue, when I’m in England with Mr. English? Most people think 13 is an unlucky number. For me it’s 14. February 14, to be exact. Boyfriends growing up always seemed to disappear sometime in January, and most of my Valentine’s Days were spent stag.

When I think Valentine’s Day, I think pink. I think little-girl Pepe le Peu classmate Valentines and Sweethearts. I think rose petals, and cocktail rings. Frankly, I’m not surprised I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, nor that I never missed one. It seems much too girly to spend without your girlfriends.

True to my tradition of never spending Valentine’s Day with a boy, Mr. English and I, through a series of accidents, have come to traditionally celebrate on the 13th (did you know 13 is a LUCKY number in France?). Which still leaves pink, roses, and cocktail rings to the 14th. All of them contribute to my ultimate Valentine cocktail: Raspberry Rose Royale, inspired by the bar at the Mandeville Hotel in London (one of our favorite romantic spots). While a Kir Royale uses creme de cassis and regular champagne, this version uses pink champagne, sweetened with raspberry puree, spiked with Framboise, and perfumed with rosewater. With all the pink, and liquor, and romance, it is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet.

BON APP, et BISOUS!

As featured in FrenchEntrée’s 100 French recipes to celebrate 100 issues of FrenchEntrée magazine

Raspberry Rose Royale

Raspberry Rose RoyaleIngredients

  • 4 ounces raspberries, plus 6 raspberries for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons rosewater
  • 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1 bottle of rosé Champagne, very cold
  • A splash of Framboise, raspberry brandy (optional)
  • Granulated white sugar, for garnish (optional)

Procedure

  1. In a mini food processor, whir together the raspberries, rosewater, and sugar. Then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any seeds.
In a large pitcher, combine the raspberry-rose puree with a splash of Framboise and the bottle of chilled pink champagne. Stir to combine.
Wet your finger, and run it around the rims of 6 champagne glasses. Dip the wet rims in white sugar to create a little sweet halo. Pour the Raspberry Rose Royale into each flute, and garnish with a raspberry each. Chin chin!
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Categories: Cocktails, Drinks, Eat, Recipes
 

The Perfect Pair: Chocolate & Brie Baguettes

RECIPE: Chocolate and Brie Baguettes
Brie and Chocolate Baguettes

Chocolate and Brie Baguettes

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Sigh (with a French accent). It’s time to sit and ponder all those perfect pairs, those historic and romantic couples, that have defined love throughout history. Romeo and Juliet. Antony and Cleopatra. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Lady, and the Tramp.

Yes, hindsight is twenty/twenty. But what must their contemporaries have said? “Romeo? Juliet? It will never work.” After all, he was a Montague, and she a Capulet. Antony was a Roman; Cleo an Egyptian. Edward a vampire, and Bella a human. Lady was a pure-blood spaniel, and Tramp–well, his name says it all. Perfect pairs to us, but at the time, they must have seemed very unlikely indeed.

Mr. English, for example, is a British scientist, a man who revels in tradition and rationality. And he chose me, an American writer, who lives for potential and actually does happen. Certain things shouldn’t match, but they do. It is a matter of chemistry.

It is chemistry, not reason, that crowns Chocolate and Brie this Valentine’s Day’s perfect pair. He is a dark candy. She is a light cheese. Just like Romeo and Juliet, or me and Mr. English, you may think at first, “That just won’t do.” You’ll just have to take my word for it, but there’s something about the chemistry, and the bit of heat between the sheets of metal on your panini press, that melts the pungent, savory cheese with the sweet, bitter chocolate into nothing short of a culinary orgasm: surprising, overwhelming, wonderful.

These tiny little sandwiches take just minutes to throw together, and make the perfect lover’s snack. Throw together a stack of Chocolate & Brie Baguettes, and offer some of this perfect pair to the other half of your own.

BON APP, et BISOUS!

Brie Chocolate Baguette Ingredients

Chocolate and Brie Baguettes
serves 4

Brie and Chocolate BaguettesIngredients

  • 12 3/4-inch slices baguette
  • Butter for lightly spreading
  • 20 grams/1.25 ounces dark chocolate (I prefer 70% cocoa) or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 92 grams/3 ounces brie

Procedure

  1. Preheat your panini press.
  2. Very lightly butter both sides of each of the 12 baguette slices. When you slice the baguette, do not do it on an angle, but rather straight across for petite rounds. Put the buttered bread in the press for a few minutes, until they are crisp and golden.
  3. Take the baguette toasts out, and divide the chocolate equally onto 6 of the baguette toasts, and the brie onto the other 6. Press each chocolate side together with a brie side, and place the sandwiches back into the panini press for just a minute or two, until the chocolate and brie have heated through and just begun to melt. You don't want to wait for the chocolate and cheese to melt completely, or they'll just run out of the bread.
  4. p.s. If you want something even more decadent this Valentine's, use the same amount of brie and chocolate, but substitute 3 plain croissants for the 12 slices of baguette. The result is a sort of brie-stuffed pain au chocolat.
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Categories: Bread & Butter, Eat, Recipes, Sandwiches
 

French in a Flash: Coeur à la Crème with Strawberry Sauce

RECIPE: Coeur à la Crème
Coeur à la Crème

Coeur à la Crème

Everyone knows that the French are a romantic people; so what better way to celebrate your Valentine then with a French sweet heart? This week’s French in a Flash on SeriousEats.com is Coeur à la Crème, a traditional French dessert of cream and cream cheese, sweetened and flavored with vanilla and lemon, and set to drain until thick, sweet, and creamy in a heart-shaped mold. The red sauce all around is the flourish of a bleeding heart. It’s the best no-bake dessert on the books–decadent, over-the-top, sweet, and a bit irrational and fun, like love.

BON APP, et JOYEUX SAINT VALENTIN!

Coeur à la Crème
serves at least 4

Coeur à la CrèmeIngredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 pound frozen whole strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

Procedure

  1. Prepare the Coeur à la Crème mold by lining it with 2 paper towels. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the bit of paper towel that touches the bottom of the mold with water. This will allow you nestle the paper into the shape of the heart more easily.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy—just about 1 minute. Add in the cream, and beat until just before the mixture looks like whipped cream. Add in the sugar, vanilla seeds, and lemon zest, and whip until the mixture does resemble whipped cream.
  3. Decant the cream cheese mixture into the paper towel-lined heart-shaped mold. Fold the excess paper towel over the top, and set the mold inside a shallow bowl to catch the liquid that will drain out. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  4. To make the sauce, put the strawberries, water, lemon juice, and sugar in a sauce pan on high heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are soft.
  5. Use a submersion blender, or a regular blender, to puree the sauce. Strain it through a sieve, and cover. Chill until cold.
  6. Invert the creamy heart in a large, shallow bowl. Pour some strawberry sauce all around the outside, so the heart is floating in a pool of red sauce.
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Categories: Desserts, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian