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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Play Nice

RECIPE: Mezze Penne Niçoise

You may not know this, but I am the reigning pétanque champion of the universe.

Pétanque is a sport of the south of France. It originated in Provence, and according to Wikipedia, 17 million French citizens take part in the game every year. One of my favorite places in Paris is Place Dauphine on Île de la Cité, a few paces from Notre Dame. There is a cafe there that makes perfect Artichoke Vinaigrette, and during the summer, I’ll eat just that and several plump hunks of baguette for dinner. As I sit on the terrace, the sun setting behind the old revolutionary jail that once imprisoned Marie Antoinette, who was then also facing the twilight of her life, I have my own little sports channel to watch. Out on the plaza, in the pits of sandy dirt that surround the soaring, swishy trees, couples and tangles of friends venture out in the dark light to play pétanque. As the silver balls jingle and twinkle as they collide, and old friends share a cigarette and a laugh, it seems to me, albeit too poetically, that Parisians are very much like pétanque balls. Exquisite to look at, like the gleaming silver balls with their variant war stripes. And always finding the occasion to fraternize, as the balls congregate around the jack.

Place Dauphine Map

Place Dauphine

I love pétanque. It is the only sport at which I have any semblance of prowess. And yet, Mr. English always beat me. Boys. That is, until yesterday, when I finished him, 5 to 4, on the last ball. I was hardly abashed; I started running around the lawn chanting “I am the pétanque champion of the universe” while Mr. English obediently collected our wayward balls while two old men passed and shot me a disbelieving look. They probably couldn’t believe I’d won an athletic competition against my boyfriend either.

Mezze Penne Niçoise

Mezze Penne Niçoise

When we came inside, of course we were famished, and I wanted to conjure up something that was evocative of the South of France in under 10 minutes. So I came up with Penne Niçoise, after Nice, the city on the sea in the South. The hearty baby penne are tossed with sauteed sweet shallots and zucchini, sauced with tomato paste, and like the pétanque balls, studded with interest with chili flakes, thyme, and mint. You could add olives as well to make it truly Niçoise, but we were fresh out. Perhaps a crowning of grated Pecorino Romano instead of my laurel wreath of victory. This recipe serves two, but double it if your pétanque team is slightly larger than ours.

I know I should stop gloating; that I should play nice. But the sweet (and spicy) taste of victory? Much Nicer.

BON APP, et BON MATCH!

Mezze Penne Niçoise
serves 2

Mezze Penne NiçoiseIngredients

  • ½ box mezze penne (small penne rigate, recommended: Barilla)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced into half moons
  • ½ small to medium zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • ½ teaspoon of chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino Romano to taste

Procedure

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat, and add the shallots and zucchini and garlic and thyme and chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to soften for 5 minutes while the pasta cooks.
  3. To the vegetables, add the tomato paste, and sauté for one minute, incorporating it into the veggies. Add the fresh mint, and a few spoonfuls of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, and toss everything together. Top with extra coarsely cracked black pepper and some grated Pecorino cheese, and maybe a few chopped black olives from Nice.
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Categories: Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

The Girl of Sandwich

RECIPE: Toasted Baguette with Camembert and Pears

The Girl of Sandwich, and her Royal Closet. Photo credit: Mr. English

The Earl of Sandwich was an Englishman. So is Mr. English. After he spent the ENTIRE day tunneling through my closet until we had, count them, six boxes packed for good will, I thought he deserved a thank you snack. I turned myself so I faced North and West, and scoured his homeland for inspiration. But I wasn’t going to serve him a modern English sandwich; mayonnaise and a plastic box being the most common and dominant ingredients. This sandwich was a thank you, after all.

So I decided to do some tunneling of my own–or rather, chunneling. I live on sandwiches when I’m in France. It is a culture that values perfect bread, and sophisticated cheeses and meats. An ideal situation for any sandwich to prosper, flourish, and find liberte, egalite, fraternite. In Paris, I stop every afternoon at the boulangerie and buy a baguette au chevre, or a half a baguette stuffed with tangy, creamy discs of fresh goat cheese, that crumble out with the crumbs of the bread for the sparrows to swoop in and collect. Or, I’ll buy a baguette and a mini wheel of the stinkiest cheese I can find, and sit myself down by the Seine for lunch.

Toasted Baguette with Camembert and Pears

Toasted Baguette with Camembert and Pears

This afternoon, I decided to add some French flavor to the old British standby, the panini. I know, the panini may sound Italian, but if you spend a few months living in England, you’ll swear the Earl of Sandwich had an Italian mistress, and invented the toasted sandwich too. I stuffed my baguette with fragrant, pungent, buttery camembert, which oozed and toasted on the sides. Sweet bosc pear and frisee lettuce were drizzled with honey and olive oil, and studded with salt and pepper. The crisp of the bread, the drool of the cheese, the bitter bite of bitter lettuce, the sweet chuckle of honey and pear. It was by far the most interesting sandwich I’d ever had. All the beauty of a French girl, and all the brains and conversational power of an English boy.

Our relationship on bread. Easy enough to swallow.

BON APP!

Toasted Baguette with Camembert and Pears

Toasted Baguette with Camembert and PearsThe best part of sandwiches is that there really is no recipe. For four, start with a baguette, and cut it into four pieces, then slice those in half horizontally. Place one thin layer of camembert from tip to tail of each slice of baguette, including the top and bottom of the same sandwich. Slice two bosc or bartlett pears thinly, and layer them on top of the camembert on the bottom halves of the bread. Trim one small head of frisee, and tostle the leaves on top of the pear. Drizzle with a touch of honey and olive oil to taste, and scatter with salt and pepper. Top with the camembert-laden top of bread. Put into a panini press until the bread is toasted and crunchy, and the cheese drips out at either side. Slice in half, and serve.

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