Super Bowl-ed Over: Merguez Baguettes

RECIPE: Merguez Baguettes
Merguez Baguette

Merguez Baguette

I may not like chicken wings, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it hot. I like hot dogs on a New York City corner, but at a party, they’re just too weeny. Instead, I serve the hottest, juiciest sausage in North Africa: Morocco’s fiery Merguez. A colonial acquisition to French cuisine, Merguez is made from lamb and spiced with anything from sumac to harissa. Above all, it is hot as the desert sun.

Merguez BaguetteI love my sausages grilled, smoky with char, and crisp. But because the Super Bowl is in the winter, I grill my sausages on my panini press. Then, instead of doughy hot dog buns, I stuff them into hearty, crusty baguette, lined with not one, but two sauces. The first is a fiery harissa mayonnaise. The second is a crème fraîche cooled with grated cucumber and shredded fresh mint. Baby spinach leaves and crumbled Terra chips finish off this gorgeous Merguez baguette.

If hot dogs are chihauhaus, then this Merguez baguette is a pit bull.

Merguez Baguettes
serves 2 to 4

Merguez BaguetteIngredients

  • 4 Merguez sausages, equaling 1 pound total
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • ¼ cup grated cucumber, from a cucumber that has been peeled and seeded
  • ¼ cup, or about 50 leaves, chiffonade of fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup Terra chip crumbs
  • 1 baguette, slit in half horizontally, but not all the way through, so it sits like a hot dog bun, then cut four pieces.

Procedure

Preheat your Panini press.
Rub the sausages with just a drizzle of olive oil, and sit them inside the Panini press for about 7-8 minutes on a medium-high setting, until cooked through and crisp.
Meanwhile, prepare the harissa mayonnaise by mixing the mayonnaise with the harissa. Set aside.
Prepare the cool crème fraîche by mixing the crème fraîche with the cucumber and mint, and season with salt and pepper.
Assemble the baguettes. First, smear the bottom half of each baguette with the harissa mayonnaise. Then, smear the top more liberally with the crème fraîche. Nestle in a handful of spinach all along the baguettes. Place one cooked Merguez sausage into each dressed quarter baguette, and top with some crushed Terra chips or other potato chips.

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Categories: Bread & Butter, Eat, Recipes, Sandwiches
 

Super Bowl-ed Over: Crudités Vinaigrette with Sauce Roquefort

RECIPE: Crudités with Sauce Roquefort
Crudités

Crudités

I have a somewhat shameful secret. You know those big Super Bowl platters of hot wings and blue cheese dressing? I am the one who steals all the celery. I know, who does that? It’s not even for dietetic purposes. I just don’t like chicken wings. I think they’re fatty and stringy and puny and bony, and I love for everyone else to eat them, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Actually, I don’t even really like celery, but dipped in blue cheese dressing, that’s another story.

If there’s one tradition I must keep alive on my Revolutionized Super Bowl table, it’s the blue cheese. So, in homage to my celery-stealing fetish, I am putting together crudites, the French way, tossed in a Dijon vinaigrette and served with a homemade Roquefort sauce.

In France, there’s not such things as carrot sticks or celery sticks, per se. Instead, when you order crudités, you get served a rabbit’s lunch: carrots with the fronds still jetting up like mohawks from their heads, radishes still showing off long Merlin’s beards. Rustically beautifully, arranged in anything from mason jars to planting pots, they are served with an aïoli or vinaigrette for dipping, and that’s that.

Crudités RoquefortIt’s amazing what a little thought on presentation can get you to eat–even celery. Instead of buying precut carrot sticks or “Frenched” carrots at the supermarket, try to find baby vegetables like carrots and squash, and simply cut them in half. The effect is far more lovely and appetizing. And if you can’t find those, don’t worry! Just cut a carrot yourself, thinner and longer than you normally would. You just want your vegetables to look like they knew this was a party, and got dressed for the occasion. Also, variety is the spice of life, so try just a few of many vegetables, from little baby cremini mushrooms to fennel to scallions to haricot verts, in addition to the old standbys of carrots, celery, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Anything in your veggie drawer is a candidate.

Roquefort Sauce

Roquefort Sauce

Speaking of dressing for the party, the secret to not-boring crudités is to toss them very lightly in a lively dressing BEFORE dipping them into the acutal Roquefort sauce. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I use my standard Dijon dressing recipe that I make weekly and keep in the fridge. The Roquefort sauce itself takes less than a minute to make, and I’ve known people to lick it out of the bottom of the bowl. That’s what happens after too many Monacos!

BON APP, et BONNE CHANCE!

Crudités with Sauce Roquefort

CruditésNote

An assortment of mixed vegetables, including cucumber, baby squash, fennel, scallions, haricots verts, radishes, carrots, grape tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, celery, and bell peppers. The trick to keep in mind here is, don’t let them look like regular old carrot sticks. By the baby carrots with the greens still on; don’t trim the fronts off the radishes, and look for baby varietals of everything. If you can’t find those, use a bit of extra knife work to make the carrots super skinny—just more elegant, and more rustic.

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • Dash of grated shallot (maybe ¼ small shallot, if that)
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce Roquefort Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Roquefort, crumbled
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Put all the vinaigrette ingredients into a mini food processor, and whirl until emulsified.
  2. Trim the vegetables as desired, and toss with just enough vinaigrette to coat.
  3. Stir all the ingredients for the Roquefort sauce together, and decant into a decorative bowl.
  4. Arrange the vegetables in a mason or jam jar, and serve alongside the Roquefort sauce.
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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Super Bowl-ed Over: Avocado and Goat Cheese Dip with Root Chips

RECIPE: Chèvre Avocado Dip with Root Chips
Avocado Chevre Dip

Avocado Chèvre Dip

I ADORE chips and guacamole. My dad and I have a ritual: we show up at Rosa Mexicano in New York, a Mexican restaurant with a guacamole cart on which they smash, squish, and season your guacamole right at your table. For me, it is an event paramount to the Super Bowl itself. In go the jalapenos; I cheer. The cilantro; what a play! Lime juice; touchdown. They plant the heavy stone molcajete in the middle of the table between us, and we dive in, like honeymooners into a hot tub, pale jade paste adorning the corners of our mouths, turned up in smiles we just can’t repress at such a culinary victory.

Avocado Chèvre Dip with Root Chips

Avocado Chèvre Dip with Root Chips

For my French Super Bowl, I abandoned the South-of-the-Border flavors, but not the tradition. I renovated one of my favorite classic French Revolution recipes: Avocado and Chèvre Dip with Root Chips. I smash avocados with lime juice and garlic, just like in guacamole. But instead of chilies and cilantro and onion, I add crème fraîche, goat cheese, and chives. I stir it all together, and serve it with a colorful potpourri of root chips instead of corn chips. It looks beautiful and festive, and is a creamier, more elegant kick at the same field goal. And honestly, it’s easier to make.

Avocado Chevre Dip

Avocado Chèvre Dip

BON APP, et BONNE CHANCE!

Terra Chips

Chèvre Avocado Dip with Root Chips

Avocado Chevre DipIngredients

  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime)
  • 2 ounces chèvre, room temperature
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 20 chives, snipped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 7.5 ounce bag Terra Original root chips

Procedure

  1. Press the avocados through a ricer and toss immediately with the lime juice. Add in the chèvre, crème fraîche, garlic, snipped chives, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  2. Arrange 2 chive halves in a cross on top of the dip as a decorative touch. And serve surrounded by Terra chips.
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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Super Bowl-ed Over: The Monaco

RECIPE: Monaco
Monaco

Monaco

To me, there is no better name for a Super Bowl beer cocktail than one that takes its name from the high-stakes betting grounds of the Riviera.

All this week, I’ll be featuring typically Revolutionized and glammed-up versions of Super Bowl favorites, from the fried to the intoxicating. Today, I begin with the Monaco, a beer cocktail that I began drinking, I hate to say it, as a very young and illegal fifteen year old. I always think that Super Bowl food is so male-oriented–lots of beer, and messy-fingered food, and chili. It’s not that I don’t like these sorts of foods, but a lot of my girl friends find them just about as palatable as the game itself.

Monaco Ingredients

Beer, Limonade, Grenadine

So why not make some Super Bowl snacks that are yummy enough to fill up the boys, and interesting enough to divert the girls? The Monaco is a great way to get those of us who may not love a lager, who may snub a stout, to drink beer. It is similar to the English shandy, and very close to the French panache. The beer is cut with limonade, and spiked with a splash of grenadine. In some ways, it is a drunken Shirley Temple–but it is rosy, convivial, sweet, hearty, and intoxicating. Needless to say, I love it.

The Super Bowl, like Monaco itself, is a place for heavy betting. I hope, for your sake, that after a few sips of this Monaco, luck will be a lady, and fortune will smile your way. May the best team win.

Check back every day this week for more French Revolution Super Bowl recipes…

BON APP, et BONNE CHANCE!

Monaco
for 1 24-ounce Pilsner glass

MonacoIngredients

  • 1 shot grenadine
  • 12 ounces French limonade
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer, preferably Kronenbourg

Procedure

  1. Pour the grenadine into the bottom of the glass. Top with the limonade, and then pour the beer in slowly to avoid having your cup runneth over.
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Categories: Cheap, Cocktails, Drinks, Easy, Eat, Recipes
 

Parsnipitty

RECIPE: Roasted Garlic and Parnsip Purée
Parsnip Purée

Parsnip Purée

Some girls’ boyfriends are persnickety. Mr. English is parsnippity. Frankly, I didn’t know what a parsnip looked like until a year ago. They are tooth-and-nails-tough white carrot-impersonators. Their hard backbone is the iron glove that covers their candy-sweet, velvet fist.

Normally, we just roast them, but we hosted some friends for a Hanukkah dinner, and I needed to dress them up. So I made parnsip puree. Sweet, but hearty. Decadent, but healthy (if you don’t count the half and half). It was gone with the wind. If you want some comfort food that can still play a bit of dress up, this is the veg for you.

BON APP!

Roasted Garlic and Parnsip Purée

Parsnip PuréeIngredients

  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium white potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a baking tray with a lip, toss the parnsips, potato, and garlic with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour.
  3. Move the roasted vegetables to the food processor and add the half and half, milk, and butter. Whip until smooth, and serve hot.
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Categories: Eat, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Strawberry Fields Forever

RECIPE: Strawberry Champagne Crumble
Girls Strawberries

Strawberries ripening at The Girls in Delray Beach, Florida

Last night, as I tucked myself beneath a snowy white comforter of down, New York was lying under a downy white blanket of snow. But just as the night is magical, epic, transcendent—the morning after hardly ever is. I suppose New York is something like most men: not quite what you thought, and somewhat disappointing in the cold, bitter New York cold, light of day. For what last night was soft, darling, romantic, has hardened overnight into a layer of cold ice, sprinkled with treacherous beads of salt, and stained with the occasional yellow trickle. How could I have been so fooled?!

Girls Strawberries 2But hope conquers all—or else, chances are, women would give up on Saturday nights altogether and the human race would cease to exist. It is in the dead of winter, when we must look forward to the summer, and lucky for me, my mother has a house in Florida, where snow, and perhaps men, don’t freeze to yellow ice overnight, and strawberries, lo and behold, are in season in winter. Paradise!

Girls Strawberries 3We started off at the ocean, and headed down aptly named Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach towards The Girls’ Strawberry Upick. When we pulled into the strip mall, and parked out front, my heart sunk. How could there be a strawberry paradise in a small storefront in a strip mall? Maybe a few quarts of ripe berries covered in cellophane, but that’s not what I’d come for at all.

Girls Strawberries 4We hesitated in, and came to the back of the store, and pressed our noses to the glass, just as I did last night, like I always do in snowstorms since I was a little girl. In Florida, the glass didn’t fog up, staying clear enough so that we couldn’t disbelieve our eyes as they glimpsed into paradise. Hydroponic strawberry plants covered 50 square acres, purple basil drooped out of pots, blossoms of squash birthing fruit tumbled out of planters. The sun blazed overhead, and like Adam and Eve before us, we made our solitary way through Eden. He walked ahead, hunting, and I followed with the bucket, gathering. On those winter nights in New York as a child, I would read Narnia, and I remember a little image from the Silver Chair where the creatures of the center of the Earth would squeeze rubies in their fists, and they would explode with the sweet juice of berries. In my hands, I had a brimming bucket of sweet, juicy rubies.

Girls Strawberries 5When we got home, Mr. English and I negotiated the fate of our little gems. I love dark chocolate covered strawberries more than anything, and, English as he is, he cannot live without a good crumble. So, we compromised, and since we had bought 3 pounds of strawberries in our enthusiasm, made both. To Frenchify an old English standby, I added the perfect pair of raspberry and rose to the strawberries, and soaked them in a splash of Champagne, before blanketing them in a blanket of snow white sugar, and baking them to a bubble.

Girls Strawberries 6Some couples roll around in the straw; we roll around in strawberries.

Strawberry Crumble

Strawberry and Champagne Crumble

BON APP, et NE PRENEZ PAS FROID!

Strawberry Crumble Inside

Strawberry Champagne Crumble

Strawberry CrumbleIngredients

  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries, hulled, halved and quartered if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons thawed frozen raspberries (optional)
  • ½ tablespoon rosewater (optional)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons champagne
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, champagne, sugar, and flour. You can use the raspberries and rosewater if you choose, it adds a complexity of flavor, but they are completely superfluous. For a simpler flavor, just omit them.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the butter, flour, sugar, and salt together until it forms coarse crumbs. Decant the mixture to a bowl, and add the almonds. Pinch the mixture until it forms thick crumbs.
  4. Pour the strawberry mixture into a baking dish, and pack the crumble topping all over the top so it reaches the sides of the dish and amply covers the fruit. Bake for 40 minutes on a baking tray, and then, if the top has not sufficiently browned, leave under the broil for a couple of minutes until the crust is golden.
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Categories: Finds, Recipes, South Florida, Voyages
 

A Case of the BLAs

RECIPE: The BLA Sandwich
BLA Sandwich

The B.L.A. Sandwich: Bacon, Lettuce, and Apple

If life is like a box of chocolates, then you’re bound to run into some days that you’d rather just spit back out into their wrappers.

Unfortunately, days are bigger than chocolates, and instead of you swallowing them, they seem to swallow you. Whole. Today is one of those days. Mr. English returned home to Grand Britannia on BA’s first trans-Atlantic of the day, and I chose to stay behind—to pursue that oft-craved, but rarely tasted prize of being A Writer. The dark chocolate truffle in a box of cherry cordials.

I know that the course of true love, and the course of success for that matter, ne’er did run smooth. In fact, the rougher it runs, the truer the love seems; the sweeter, realer, and more deserved the success. Nevertheless, today chocolate tastes nothing if not bittersweet, and no amount of sugar can assuage my case of the BLAs.

BLA being the cutesy acronymic pun that is hardly germane with the tone of this post, but nevertheless stands for the Bacon, Lettuce, and Apple, a sandwich which Mr. English readily devoured right before my eyes just a few short days ago, when the future seemed remote, and England far remoter.

It is not always easy to get an English man to accept American bacon. Mr. English loves many things that are American. New York bars, outstanding customer service, J. Crew, me. But streaky, crisp, smoky American bacon? He shakes his head. “This is not bacon.”

This sandwich was the first occasion on which he did not utter this damning denial. Crisp bacon is layered on a fluffy double baguette with grassy parsley pistou, lacey frisée lettuce, sweetart slices of crisp apple, and a dollop of the traditional mayonnaise that no BL… sandwich can live without.

In fact, his devilish grin when he stole my half of the sandwich off my plate and tucked right in can’t help but be contagious, and I do find myself with a timid smile twisting around my lips. I hope that the BLA can reach down and pull you out of the blahs too.

Make sure you follow it up with a chocolate for dessert. You never know; you might just get that dark chocolate truffle after all.

BON APP, et BON CHANCE.

The BLA Sandwich
serves 2

BLA SandwichIngredients

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 sliver of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 piece of double-wide baguette, cut the length of a strip of bacon, and sliced in half horizontally
  • 4 strips of thickly sliced center cut bacon, cooked at 400°F on a slotted broiler tray until they are crisp and golden, but not crumbly
  • Mayonnaise for smearing
  • ½ apple, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • Frisée lettuce for garnish

Procedure

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a small food processor, put the parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and whirl until you have a pistou. You’ll want to use very little garlic here, because it can really overpower the apple. I use a corner of a clove.
  3. Put the two halves of the double-wide baguette (it’s doughier and heartier) under the broiler until they turn golden, just a minute or two.
  4. Arrange the sandwich. Line the 4 bacon slices on the bottom half of the bread, and slather the top piece of bread with a thin layer of mayonnaise. On top of the bacon, arrange a thin layer of apple slices, and pour the parsley pistou on top. Top with frisée, and then the mayonnaised bread. Slice in half for the perfect snack for two.
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