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


  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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Categories: Desserts, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Pastry, Recipes, Series, Vegetarian

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.


  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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Categories: Recipes

Cockadoodledoo: Saturday Brunch Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre

This post is a submission for the NYC Eggland’s Best Recipe Contest!

There have been a lot of comings and goings lately. I commute back and forth between New York and South Florida every week now, working at Penguin two days a week, and writing the other 5. I feel like a chicken without a head, and it’s a blessed morning when I wake up knowing exactly where I am, and where I’m supposed to be an hour later.

So when a bunch of my Princeton girlfriends announced they’d be dropping in on me and Jamie (my best friend from Princeton who also happens to have grown up next door) for the weekend, I quivered with happiness, and then shivered in panic. Our sorority told us to “put away childish things,” but I decided to put away the grownup ones. I was taking this weekend off.

The girls, specifically Jamie, Jessie, Franny, and Katie (hi!), have been so supportive with my food career that I wanted to cook for them. After all, the way to anyone’s heart is through her stomach. When they got in late Friday night, I decided Saturday brunch, our traditional New York meeting time, was in order.

The menu read as follows:

  • Watermelon and Raspberry Salad
  • Brioche, Baguette, and Croissants with Confiture and Nutella
  • Sunday Brunch Soda, with Freshly Squeezed Florida Orange Juice, Orange Flower Water, and Perrier
  • And, the pièce de résistance, Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre

As it turns out, even a headless chicken can lay a couple of eggs.

Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre are perfect brunch finger food. Eggs and milk are whipped together to an ecstasy of fluffy bubbles, and flavored with salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. In go the fines herbes, a traditional French herb blend of tarragon, parsley, chervil, and chives. They just all go so perfectly with eggs—the anise of the tarragon, the grassiness of the parsley, the delicate verdure of the chervil, and the springtime snap of the chives. The quiche batter is spooned into muffin tins, and then great dollops of goat cheese, that will melt in pockets into the quiches, are tumbled in. Bake, and serve. That’s all you have to do.

These quiches come out of the oven puffed as a soufflé, fluffy as an omelet, and hearty as a frittata. Peppered with green confetti, they look like a garden party, and the tangy, melting cream of the goat cheese fills your mouth with a distinctive bite. And all of that without having to worry about the crust.

After all the wine, hard work, late nights, and twenty-somethings’ troubles, my friends smiled with gratitude. I suppose I am Mother Hen after all.

Petite Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre

8 eggs

½ cup whole milk

Salt and pepper

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)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until they are well combined.

3. Season the egg and milk mixture liberally with salt and pepper, and beat in the Parmesan or Percorino cheese and the fines herbes (parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives).

4. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. You want to make sure and spray each muffin cup very thoroughly, and use a non-stick muffin if you have one. You don’t want to spend your afternoon scraping baked egg out of muffin tins.

5. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into each cup, dividing the eggs equally between the 12 muffin cups. Scatter bits of the goat cheese equally across the 12 quiches, dropping the dollops in the center of each eggy “muffin.”

6. Set the filled muffin tin on a baking sheet to catch any spills, and bake for 20-23 minutes, until all the quiches have puffed up and appear firm throughout.

7. Allow the quiches to cool slightly in the muffin tins. They will deflate, but this step is essential in keeping the quiches intact as you remove them from the tin. Use a butter knife to loosen them out of their cups, and serve warm or room temperature.

A note on Eggland’s Best: When I received the invitation to enter the NYC Eggland’s Best Recipe Contest, I grinned. I had just run out and bought a carton of Eggland’s Best the day before. I was happy to support the company, because they support us bloggers, and because they sell cage-free eggs in the regular supermarket, and I always try to buy cage-free when I can. So thank you, Eggland’s, for the support and the invitation, and for setting the right example. I hope you have enjoyed this recipe.

Bon App!

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French in a Flash: French Onion Soup Dumplings

RECIPE: French Onion Soup Dumplings
French Onion Soup Dumplings

French Onion Soup Dumplings

When I was a little girl, French onion soup was my favorite thing in the world. I searched high and low for it, at every restaurant. Now that I think about it, French onion soup reminds me very much of the French Revolution, both this blog, and the actual event, because I managed to decapitate and disembowel every bowl of the soup that crossed my path. I was Madame Defarge, and my poor, lovely, dear little soup was a blond Marie Antoinette.

French Onion Soup Dumplings InsideI ate only the cheese, and the broth. The onions were left in a watery grave, and the bread, wrung dry by my spoon, was left to crumble pathetically on the side of my plate. I had no mercy; I knew what I wanted, and I ate it. In truth, that’s still how I eat it!

French Onion Soup Dumplings ServeSo what to do with all those French onions left drowned in the bottom of the pot? I take a cue from The Stanton Social, a great NYC restaurant, and make French Onion Soup Dumplings. Yes, I’m serious–so serious, in fact, that French Onion Soup Dumplings are this week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats. Bon app!

French Onion Soup Dumplings
makes 15 to 20 dumplings

French Onion Soup DumplingsIngredients

  • Counterfeit French Onion Soup Onions (recipe below), or 1 to 1 1/2 cups reserved onions from French Onion Soup

  • 15 to 20 wonton wrappers

  • 1 cup Gruyère, grated

  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

  • Chives, or twigs of thyme, for garnish

  • A pat of butter


  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. To make the dumplings, spray 2 individual gratin dishes with nonstick cooking spray, and set them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Take a wonton wrapper in your hand, and dip you finger into the strained broth (see above), moistening the entire wrapper. This procedure will not only allow the dumpling to adhere and keep its shape, but will also steam the wrapper itself while the dumplings are in the oven. It's a messy job, but if you want French Onion Soup Dumplings, you've got to do it.

  3. Take about a teaspoon of drained onions, and place it into the center of the wonton wrapper. Fold one corner up to meet the opposite corner, and press the sides of the triangle together. Take the other two sides, and bring them up to the central point, and twist, forming a little beggar's purse, or dumpling. Place the dumpling seam side down in the baking dish. Keep making dumplings until you have packed both gratin dishes.

  4. Top each gratin dish with half the Gruyère and half the Parmesan. Dot little dabs of butter all over the top of the cheese. This will allow the cheese to brown and toast like on real French Onion Soup.

  5. Sit the dumplings under the broiler, until they look like French Onion Soup after about 5 minutes. The cheese should be bubbling and golden.

  6. Stick a decorative toothpick into each dumpling, and scatter chives or thyme stems over the top. Serve right from the oven.

Counterfeit French Onion Soup Onions Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/4 cup cognac

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 cup beef stock

  • 1 bay leaf

  • The leaves of 4 sprigs thyme

Counterfeit French Onion Soup Onions Procedure

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and pepper, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may have to turn your heat down to low if you find them caramelizing too quickly. You want them very soft, but not burnt.

  2. After 30 minutes, add the cognac, and let it reduce for 1 minute. Add the wine and beef stock and bay leaf and thyme. Season again with salt and pepper. Simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Afterwards, set the onions into a strainer over a bowl to cool almost completely. Reserve both the onions, and the broth that drains from them. You will want to use the same drain-and-reserve method if you are using bought or reserved onions!

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series

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


  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


  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