Borough Man

RECIPE: Brindisa Knock-Off Chorizo Sandwiches

A review of Brindisa chorizo sausage sandwich specialist at Borough Market, London

For those of us who are hungry, a city, like London, can be a labyrinth with no helpful Ariandne’s string to point out the right gastronomic direction. It was Saturday afternoon and I was with Mr. English (that’s my boyfriend) at two o’clock when we both realized with a cataclysmic boom that neither of us had eaten and were quickly deteriorating to a state of what would be known on the Lower East Side as “kvetchiness.” To make matters worse, we were standing, lost in the middle of London’s Borough Market, a serpentine thoroughfare of overrun footpaths under a railway bridge brimming with food vendors: a culinary labyrinth within the labyrinth, a gastronomic heaven that quickly began to feel like hell.

But we had meant to go out for a “nice lunch,” seated across from the Thames at a table draped in a starched white table cloth with silverware that felt like it was worth its weight. I looked helplessly around me: ruddy gilded tins of truffles, seafarer’s glass cannisters of ras-el-hanout, ropes of currants that dangled recklessly from the safety of their little jade boxes. Food, food everywhere, but not a bite to eat! I looked down at a homeless man begging by the pillar on the edge of the market: masochist!

Rationally, what followed was an argument. “Let’s just have a little something here to tide us over,” I pleaded. “I don’t really want that,” quashed Mr. English. “But what about that chorizo place we saw?” “Did you see the queue?!” As we meandered with much purpose but little direction, I darted like a squirrel through an autumn grove, harvesting a bounty of small checkers of bread dipped in liquid gold oils and bits of cheese that would hardly serve as enough to attract a mouse to a trap, but that melted like drops of creamy, heady candy in my mouth. All around us was the Saturday clatter of an ancient market, which had grown inveterately into this very spot, but had, of late, succumb to the fate of all the old-world relics in cities like New York and London: it had become trendy. I glared up at Mr. English as he munched an olive off a toothpick. Above the din, my stomach growled at him. “Ok, chorizo,” he conceded.

So, I was wrong. It seems there is an Ariadne’s string through the culinary labyrinths of London, and that string is more like a Hansel and Gretel trail of chorizo sandwiches that lead to a long line that leads to Brindisa, a dilapidated stall containing two crooked, burning onyx grills at the back, and a little low table at the front. The menu is simple: single or double. There, Mr. Sausage, the Borough Man, dexterously stacks one or two (depending on your order) smoking and smokey chorizo sausages, split and spicy and crisp, on a toasted ciabatta roll laced with an embellishment of that liquid gold I mentioned earlier. Following that are one or two roasted piquillo peppers and some baby arugula. He folds the sandwich back on itself, wraps it in a napkin, and hands it to you as you droolingly fork over somewhere between £3.75 and £4.50.

Mr. English and I retreated over by the pillar, where the homeless man had loitered moments before. No starch or silver for us. Oh, no. We stood, with the gleaming, gossamer red grease running through our fingers as we giggled up from our sandwiches, mouths dusted in bakers’ flour like children who had greedily gulped powdered donuts. I dropped my last bite of sausage, and Mr. English (who had ordered a double) gave me his. And somewhere between the heat of the sausage, the heat of the day, and the heat of the moment, we were in love again.

My Borough Man, like the Marlboro Man for whom he is named, brought me back to the cowboy, or should I say gaucho, way of eating, when all you want is something good and real, because stomachs know nothing of pomp and circumstance. So while the Marlboro Man was roping bulls, my Borough Man was slaying the Minotaur—and serving some form of him up on his parilla. Now that’s a hero for you! Guess I didn’t need Ariadne’s string after all. I just had to follow my gut.

Brindisa Knock-Off Chorizo Sandwiches
makes 4

Brindisa Knock Off SandwichesIngredients

  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • ½ tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 long pointed sweet peppers of various colors (red, orange, yellow)
  • 6 links (400 grams total) of chorizo sausage
  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • Salt

Procedure

  1. In the spirit of Brindisa, where everything is done with haphazard finesse, the measurements are just a formality. The main thing to do is to preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Toss the peppers with a touch of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Then, place these on one side of a foil-lined baking sheet, and the chorizo on the other. Roast for 20 minutes. Watch the sausage, as they may take less time to cook. You're just looking for a charred, crisp casing and a firm interior.
  2. When the pepper and sausages are finished roasting, split the chorizo in half on one side, piercing just one side of the casing so that the other side holds the split sausage together. Put them face down in a medium hot nonstick skillet and brown for five minutes, while you de-stem, de-seed, and de-skin the peppers. Put the rolls in the hot oven to toast for just a minute, and then drizzle with the 1- 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Assemble the sandwiches: you have enough sausage for two doubles and two singles. On the singles, put one sausage on one side of the bun, then half a roasted pepper, and a small bunch of arugula, and top with the top of the bun. For the doubles, it’s one sausage on each side of bread, followed by a piece of pepper on each side, and arugula in the middle.
  4. I serve this with, in the spirit of the Marlboro Man’s bulls and Borough Man’s Minotaur: Bulls**t Sangria. Just fill each glass with 2 slices of seedless navel orange, and then half Spanish white wine and half sparkling water, and mash the orange around in the glass. Perfecto!
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Categories: Bread & Butter, Eat, London, Recipes, Sandwiches, Voyages
 

In the Closet

RECIPE: Fried Portuguese Sardines with Harissa Tomato Sauce

scroll down for these “straight from the pantry” recipes…

Provençal Anchovy Bath for Baguette and Crudités

White Bean Velouté with Herbs de Provence Oil

Fried Portuguese Sardines with Harissa Tomato Sauce

When I was a little girl, I lived in another world, and that world was called Narnia. Or, at least I did in my mind. In my young, bright, brunette head, I would grow up to marry the vivacious Prince Caspian, and valiant little Reepicheep would be our Mouse-in-waiting.

When I saw that both Caspian and Reepicheep would be appearing in the new movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, I am embarrassed to admit that I gasped with pleasure, and immediately fell upon my C. S. Lewis texts with the renewed vim and vigor of seventeen years ago. You may be thinking that the closet in the title of this post refers to the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a wooden closet that transported the young boys and girls from war-torn England to the land of Narnia. But while some kitchen closets may appear to lead to other worlds, and may even house talking Mice, although despite my love for Reepicheep I do hope yours doesn’t, it is the treasure chamber in Prince Caspian to which I am referring.

In Prince Caspian, the four children, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, stumble back to their old castle Cair Paravel and find the treasure chamber, where their clothes and jewels and swords and bows and arrows and magic potions have lain dormant for a millennium, to have been discovered right when they have become necessary. Now that, to me, truly resembles a pantry, which, in my house, is a brimming series of shelves the kitchen closet. In that pantry, magical potions of harissa and pistou, an arsenal of culinary weaponry from anchovies to dried zapote, and exotic jewels like imported tinned truffles have lain latently for, at least it seems like, centuries. All too often, I dump half of my pantry’s contents in my bi-annual overhauls. In our world of fresh green markets, the convenience of yesterday’s staple preserved foods are often hidden behind a shut wooden door, and like the treasures of Cair Paravel, left untouched and forgotten.

While I love cooking, I, like you I’m sure, don’t want to spend every night rifling through fresh produce, concocting feasts fit for the mirrored hall at Versailles. Sometimes, I come home late, and am tired, and may even be going out again, and dinner has to be conjured up through some sort of culinary magic from the stores I have behind that shut wooden door. But I still want dinner to be interesting and presentable, especially if I am sharing it with friends. So this week, I am showing you how to make a perfect whole three course meal from your pantry, and showing you what to always have around when you do have time to shop, so that you won’t go hungry when you don’t. On tonight’s menu (yes, tonight, for if your pantry is well-stocked, you won’t have to leave your house!): Anchovy Bath for Baguette and Crudités, White Bean Velouté with Herbs de Provence Oil, and Fried Portuguese Sardines with Harissa Tomato Sauce. The first is a traditional Provençal amuse bouche where anchovies are pounded together with olive oil and served with a few olives. Use it as a dip for whatever you have around: leftover carrots and cherry tomatoes, breadsticks, or stale baguette, which you should just slice, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. The second uses up those white beans in the pantry, for with just a bit of garlic and shallot and stock, they emerge a velvety soup as warming and comforting as brandy and decorated with herbs de Provence mixed with olive oil and served as a condiment at the table. The last takes sardines, tosses them with flour, and fries them. The sauce is a mix of everything red in your pantry: chili flakes, harissa, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and sundried tomato paste, and is a fiery partner for the little shards of crispy fish—kind of like French calamari with marinara. Eating out of the pantry is like eating for free and in five minutes—but these recipes make it a treat as well. Like the children in Narnia, all you need is a little imagination.

In the Pantry

Everyone who cooks has certain things in her pantry, like flour and sugar and an aging array of herbs and spices, that I will take for granted. But every bonne fille française has a culinary repertoire that may differ a bit from the average americaine’s. Here is a shopping list of culinary jewels to keep locked away in that ancient closet for just such a time when you’ll need them most.

herbs de provence

red chili flakes

harissa

canned green pepper corns

extra virgin olive oil
t

ruffle oil

vegetable oil

white wine vinegar

dijon mustard

whole grain mustard “à l’ancien”

jarred black olive tapenade

jarred green pesto or pistou

jarred red pesto or pistou

dried wild mushrooms

capers in brine
anchovy paste

tuna, salmon, or sardines in olive oil or water

sundried tomatoes in oil or sundried tomato paste

tomato paste

cans of petite diced tomatoes or chair de tomate

lentils de puy

canned beans, like chick peas and cannellini

panko (japanese breadcrumbs)

bouillon cubes or broth

shallots

garlic (and/or garlic paste for emergencies)

spanish onions

assorted pastas, at least one long strand (spaghetti) and one short shape (rotelle/wagon wheels)

couscous

red wine

white wine

rosé wine

champagne

four red fruits jam

marmalade

orange flower water

rosewater

dried lavender blossoms

petit beurre cookies

dark chocolate

unsalted butter

crème fraiche

gruyere

parmesan

frozen puff pastry

baguettes, baguettes, baguettes

This is just a provisionary list. I often also have frozen peas, frozen spinach, frozen shrimp, frozen berries, filo pastry, and pie pastry in the freezer, but that’s not exactly the pantry, now is it? I also think it’s a good idea to keep potatoes and carrots, leeks and tomatoes, and I nearly always have risotto rice on hand. Also, never be scared of stocking up on baguettes. If they get stale, I break them up into the food processor and whirl them around till I have fresh baguette crumbs—almost the only type of bread crumb I ever use. Then I just keep them in the freezer until I need them. Also, to make the pantry a true treasure chamber, I like to pick up items of interest, like cassis mustard or tarragon vinegar, to make it all more special and exciting. Now, at the risk of sounding just a tad too politically incorrect for our own world, it’s time to get back in the closet!

BON APP!

Anchovy DipProvençal Anchovy Bath for Baguette and Crudités

1 baguette, sliced ½ inch thick, or a packet of breadsticks, or some raw vegetables (or all three)

¼ cup of olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 crushed garlic clove

2 full teaspoons of anchovy paste

A handful of Provençal olives

  1. If you are using baguette, and it is fresh, just tear it into chunks. However, if it is a day old, slice it and lay the slices on a baking sheet, and drizzle very lightly with oil and a touch of salt. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 15 minutes for little baguette toasts. Otherwise, just open your packet of breadsticks or trim your crudités.
  2. To make the anchovy bath, mix ¼ cup of olive oil, the anchovy paste, and the garlic in a small sauce pan, and heat on low for 5-7 minutes so the flavors combine, stirring it all together.
  3. Pour the bath onto a saucer or a small bowl, and pile a few olives in the center. Then dip away. Unassuming, but delicious.

White Bean Veloute OriginalWhite Bean Velouté with Herbs de Provence Oil

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

3 shallots, or 2 very small onions, chopped or sliced

1 tablespoon of garlic paste, or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 410-gram cans of white beans (like cannellini, haricot, or great northern), drained and rinsed
4 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)

¼ cup of cream (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of herbs de Provence

  1. Add the butter and oil to a stock pot over medium heat, and when the butter has melted, add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions become translucent and fragrant, but not browned—about 3 or 4 minutes.
  2. Add the beans, stir around with the onions and garlic, and then add the stock, and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover, cooking the soup for 15 minutes.
  4. Then blend the soup to create a smooth consistency. When blending hot liquids, be careful, and remove the little top in the lid of your blend and cover it instead with your kitchen towel, to allow the steam a route of escape.
  5. Return the soup the pot, and stir in the cream, if using. Serve immediately with the herbs de Provence oil, made simply by combining the herbs and the remaining olive oil.
Fried Portuguese Sardines with Harissa Tomato Sauce

Fried SardinesIngredients

  • 1 120-gram tins of Portuguese sardines, preferably in olive oil, but any kind will do
  • ½ cup of flour
  • Olive oil for
  • frying
Salt
  • 1 200-gram can of chair de tomate, or diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sundried tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of harissa
1 tablespoon of herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, or 1 clove of garlic
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ lemon, cut into slices for squirting on the fish

Procedure

  1. Fill a very small saucepan about 1 inch high with olive oil, and set over a medium high flame to heat up.
  2. Drain the sardine fillets, and break them up lengthwise into little spears of fish. Dredge them in the flour, and dust of the excess.
  3. Meanwhile, putt all the ingredients for the harissa tomato sauce into a saucepan over medium low heat and allow to simmer until the fish have fried.
  4. Test the oil by dropping a little piece of floured fish into the fryer. If it sizzles and rises to the top, it is ready. Fry in small batches for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the sardines are golden and firm, then remove to a paper towel to drain.
  5. Dust the sardines with a touch of salt, and serve with the lemons, harissa tomato sauce, and maybe the butt of a baguette.
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Categories: Recipes
 

Yours Sancerrely,

RECIPE: Chicken with Sancerre, Mushrooms, and Thyme

The victor, with 45% of the votes, in June’s French Revolution “French Wine” poll is…

Sancerre!

Sancerre BottleCongratulations to all you Revolutionaries who chose the French white. In the spirit of fraternité, egalité, and liberté, I’m glad you exercised your right to vote. Read on to find out more about Sancerre, my favorite white wine, and for the monthly poll recette:

Chicken with Sancerre, Mushrooms, and Thyme

I recently bought a book of Roald Dahl’s short stories. Most of us revere Roald Dahl as the author of classic children’s books, from Fantastic Mr. Fox to Matilda, but he also wrote great handfuls of “mature” stories, stories that are sexy, racy, irreverent, and, above all, intoxicating, like “Taste,” in which the fate of a young girl rests on the outcome of a blind wine taste test. The wine is described as gentle, demure, and bashful. Not a Sancerre.

Knowing about wine is certainly a matter of pride; even if you don’t care much about wine except for its taste and its heady effects, you still feel like you’ve won a culture contest when you can hold up a wine list and at least look like you know what you’re talking about, and come up with some anthropomorphizing adjectives that reconstruct the flavor of the wine in the form of a tantalizing young Bacchanal.

Truth be told, my friend Julie introduced me to Sancerre. She was sitting across the table from me in that mythical, late Moules Frites haven La Tour that I mentioned in Flex!. “Mmm…Sancerre. We’ll have two glasses.”

Sancerre MapIn the vein of Roald Dahl’s “tasteful” language, I would describe Sancerre as fruity and flowery all at once, sparkling without the bubbles, the brighter citrus Champagne of flat wines. If she were a Bacchanal, Sancerre would have orange blossoms streaming from her hair and would dance the Charleston. Gentle, demure, bashful she is not; but she is gilded class in a glass. She is witty and elegant, wears almost too many ropes of chic white pearls, and always has the last word.

Sancerre is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, growing around the town of Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Sancerre is one of the original Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée awarded in the late 1930s—AOC is a way that the French government recognizes and regulates the point of origin of French food products, and is why so many of them are recognized by the name of their town of production, beginning with Roquefort, a blue cheese named after its city, in the fifteenth century. Red and even rosé Sancerres are made in the same region from the Pinot Noir grape.

Sancerre ValleyLike the life of any party, Sancerre gets along very well with almost anyone, or anything, on the table. But to show her to advantage, I’d sit her with goat cheese to her left and shellfish or whitefish to her right. And if you find you can only take such a spirit in small doses, make a Sancerre spritzer. Giada de Laurentiis makes a brilliant white wine spritzer by freezing orange and lemon zest into ice cubes, and then mixing with sparkling water and white wine. Replace Pellegrino with Perrier and Pinot Grigio with Sancerre. Finally, she’ll sparkle as she was meant to.

To taste! Chin chin!

Please vote in the July poll: which French colonial cuisine do you prefer? Creole/Cajun with its New Orleans beignets? Moroccan tagines and fragrant teas and salads? Quebecoise poutine? Or the salty sweet noodle dishes of Indochine? At the end of July, I’ll share a recipe from the winning cuisine! Oooh…which to choose? They’re all so good! I’ll let the Revolutionary public decide.

Chicken with Sancerre, Mushrooms, and Thyme
serves 4

Sancerre ChickenIngredients

  • 12 pieces of dark meat chicken (legs and thighs)
  • 500 grams of chestnut mushrooms, sliced (use cremini if you cannot find chestnut)
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cup of Sancerre
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • ¼ cup of cream
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs de Provence

Procedure

  1. Start by seasoning the chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and a light sprinkling of herbs de Provence.
  2. Working either in batches or using 2 wide pots, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken on both sides, and set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the pot(s), and then the shallots. Sauté for one minute before adding the mushrooms and the thyme. Season with pepper, but hold off on the salt until the mushrooms have achieved a bit of color.
  4. When the mushrooms are about halfway cooked, and a bit seared, add the Sancerre. Allow the flavor to concentrate for a minute before adding in the stock. Bring to a simmer and lower the flame; then add the chicken back into the pot. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cream and the parsley. Serve with crusty baguette or egg noodles, like in Alsace.
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Buckwheat Bronco

RECIPE: Crêpe Batter

Crêpes O Mania in Oxford, England

Basic Crêpe Batter

Brie Crêp-o-dilla with Avocado Crème Fraîche and Watermelon Salsa

Crêpe Salad Bowl with Cassis Mixed Greens and Warm Goat Cheese

Crêpe Monsieur

As you know, my mother and my grandmother and toute la famille are French. As a form of adolescent rebellion, I had stubbornly forgotten and refused to relearn the language of Proust and Saint-Exupery, of Candide and of Astrix and Obelix. I was a very naughty little girl.

So when I was fifteen, my mother suggested that I spend the summer completing one of those language immersion programs, where you attend school and live with another family, and where speaking English is as forbidden and ghastly as dumping ketchup all over a plate of escargots. After a refresher course in Paris, off I went to Brest, and after spending a day snickering about the city’s name, I then stumbled innocently upon something even better than French verbs: French food!

Brest is located on the coast of Bretagne, a province simultaneously French and Breton all at once. Though the feu d’articifice still dazzled the cold, dark sky on Basille Day, hints of the old Breton language permeated the Bretons’ speech; old, Saxon-like dances still were danced in large, pied circles at the center of town; and on every other corner thereabouts resided the most charming Breton of all: the crêpe man.

In New York, one comes to rely on street food. Central Park has become quite safe in the past decades, but hunger still stealthily burgles about. The knowing New Yorker need only walk several yards before finding rescue at the Hot Dog Stand. There, for a few (an ever-increasing few) dollars, the New Yorker can still his stomach on a hot dog with ketchup, or a salty pretzel with mustard. And the city streets are safe and satisfying once again.

I was on another English picnic recently, and when one is in England, I say do as the English—drink in the afternoon! I had cheers-ed my way through a whole bottle of wine spritzer when I stood up to stumble home, and on my merry way, I tripped disbelievingly up to a stand on which was emblazoned: Crêpes O Mania, Breton Pancake Specialist.

It is my steadfast and personal opinion that there is no better cure for the rumbling of an intoxicated stomach than the oozing, salty perfection of a crisp and gooey crêpe au fromage. I shouted up at the proprietor in glee: “Are you really from Bretagne!? Do you use gruyere!?” Tolerantly he chuckled, yes, he was Breton, and no, he did not use gruyere, though he claimed he could have done, just as well.

“Will you still try one?” Yes, of course. I never say to no to cheese crêpes. As a rule. To my surprise, he did not pull out a pre-prepared crêpe, but ladled a curiously dark batter onto a hot crêpe griddle. “Buckwheat?” I demanded. He told me yes, it is healthier, and makes a better crêpe, and he is the only man in Oxford with the secret. He then blanketed the crêpe with a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses (I was skeptical), and expertly peppered the combination with salt before folding it up into the trademark rectangle of the savory Breton galette. I bit through the perfect eggshell of crisp, buckwheat pancake, and out oozed the cheese. M. Le Crêpe, mes compliments! He even gave me a frequent crêp-ers card, and I get my tenth free!

The crêpe is one of the most signature, and yet versatile, foodstuffs of France. It can be sweet or salé, served for breakfast or dinner, a midnight snack or dessert. It can be fancy, or be humble. This week’s installment is all about little unorthodox recettes for the crêpes that you make (I’ve included my go-to basic batter recipe) or you buy. Crêpe-O-Dilla is a French quesadilla that uses the pancake as a tortilla on the grill, stuffed with creamy brie, toasted, and topped with avocado crème fraîche and a tomato and watermelon salsa. The crêpe salad bowl is a crisp shell, filled with mixed greens, crisp goat cheese, and a cassis mustard vinaigrette. And finally, the Crêpe Monsieur is a savory prosciutto and gruyere pancake, seared, and then topped with a gruyere-Dijon béchamel and baked. Merveilleux!

M. Le Crêpe, merci pour le dessert dans le desert…

 

CrepeOdilla

Crêpe-O-Dilla

Crêpe-o-dillas with Avocado Crème Fraîche and Watermelon-Tomato Salsa

8 crêpes

250 grams of brie

  1. Divide the brie amongst the crêpes, lying the slices of cheese on one side, and folding the crêpe over it like a quesadilla.
  2. Toast the crêpe over medium heat in a nonstick, ungreased frying pan until crisp on both sides, with a melted brie center.
  3. Serve with Avocado Crème Fraîche and Watermelon-Tomato Salsa (recipes follow)

3 vine tomatoes, petite diced

¾ cup of petite diced watermelon

1 tablespoon of parsley

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

2 pinches of salt

Pepper

  1. Simply toss all the ingredients together and allow them to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

1 avocado

¾ cup of crème fraîche

Juice of ½ lime

Salt

  1. Whirl the crème fraîche, salt, lime juice, and the flesh of the avocado together in the food processor until it becomes a smooth jade-green cream.

 

Crepe Salad Bowls

Crêpe Salad Bowls

Crêpe Salad Bowls with Cassis Mixed Greens and Warm Goat Cheese Medallions

4 crêpes

1 shallot

1 bag of bistro greens, including shards of beets

¼ cup of olive oil

2 ½ tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

1 pinch of herbs de Provence

1 tablespoon of cassis Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

200 grams of cold goat cheese

2 eggs

1 cup of breadcrumbs or panko, or the two mixed together

Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lay the crêpes over 6 small ramekins placed upside down on a baking sheet, so that the crêpes form bowls.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the crêpe bowls from the ramekins and allow to cool upside down on the counter.
  5. Raise the oven to 425 degrees.
  6. For the warm goat cheese, divide the goat cheese into 8 pieces.
  7. Create a breading station, with one bowl containing the beaten eggs, salt, and pepper, and the other containing the bread crumb-panko mixture.
  8. Dip each piece of goat cheese in the egg, then the crumbs, then the egg again, and finally the crumb again, dusting off the excess between each step.
  9. Bake the cheese for 10 minutes on a lined baking sheet.
  10. Meanwhile, in the bottom of a large bowl, combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, cassis mustard, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Toss with the shallots, and beet-spiked greens.
  11. Divide the salad between the four crêpe bowls. Arrange 2 pieces of goat cheese to crown the top of each.

 

Crêpe Monsieur

Crêpe Monsieur

Crêpe Monsieur

6 crêpes

6 slices of prosciutto

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of grated gruyere, divided

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan, divided

4 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of flour

1 ¼ cup of milk

Butter for dotting

Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat the milk in a stock pot on medium-low heat.
  3. For each of the 6 crêpes, place the slice of prosciutto and 3 tablespoons of gruyere in the center of the crêpe. Then fold in the four sides so that it forms a stuffed square.
  4. Toast the stuffed crêpe in a dry non stick pan on medium heat so that the inside melts, and the outside toasts to a crisp shell.
  5. Meanwhile make the béchamel by melting the butter in a stock pot on medium heat. Add the flour, and stir, allowing the roux to toast lightly.
  6. Add the mustard and toast for 30 seconds with the roux, along with salt and pepper.
  7. Add in the hot milk, and stir so that the milk begins to simmer.
  8. Add in the two cheeses, and allow the béchamel to simmer until it thickens, so that if you dip a wooden spoon into the sauce and run your finger down the back, the sauce stays separated.
  9. Ladle some of the béchamel in the bottom of a smallish square baking dish.
  10. Arrange the six crêpe packets overlapping in the pan.
  11. Spoon most of the rest of the sauce over the crêpes, creating another thin layer.
  12. Top with the remaining gruyere and parmesan cheeses, and dot the top with a little bit of butter.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly and golden and serve very hot.

BON APP!


Crêpe Batter
yields 10 to 12 crêpes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 1 teaspoon, melted and cooled

Procedure

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender, and whirl them around until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides once to make sure everything is completely incorporated.
  2. Let the batter rest for 1 hour. Take this advice!
  3. Put a small, nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in a shy ¼ cup of batter, and, off the heat, quickly swirl it around the pan so it thinly coats the surface.
  4. Return the pan to the heat. The crepe is ready to flip when it naturally begins to slide around the pan when you shake it. Flip it in the air if you can…if not use a crepe spatula. When the crepe slides out, it is ready. Stack the crepes between pieces of parchment paper. Repeat until the batter is used up.
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Categories: Oxford, Recipes, Voyages
 

Dejeuner sur l’Herbe

RECIPE: Provencal “Soupe au Pistou” Pasta

Picnicking in Oxfordshire

scroll down for these picnic recipes…

Provencal “Soupe au Pistou” Pasta

Pan Bagnat

Watermelon with Rose and Raspberries

Oh, the great outdoors. The wide open country, the rolling hills, the heady blossoms of the early summer flowers…

I’m a city girl. Wide open country…agoraphobia! Rolling hills…I get seasick thinking of amber waves of grain. And flowers? Bunkers for kamikaze bees.

Now that my work is done for the summer, I have been participating altogether unseemingly frequently in, what I have learned to be, an English pastime as sacred as cricket and drinking Pimm’s: the picnic. Interestingly, I’ve found that one also watches cricket and drinks Pimm’s while on a picnic, so really the whole affair avalanches into a sacred ritual.

You may not know this, but my boyfriend is a zoologist here in Oxford. Thus, we see the concept of “picnic” from rather disparate angles. When I, the literature student and writer, think of an English picnic, I think of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, walking through the emerald English countryside, stopping for an apple just one mile shy of Pemberley. The green hills are plush as a penthouse carpet, and the cool indoors, replete with bathroom and rose-scented water, are just a stone’s throw off in the distance. When a zoologist thinks of an English picnic, however, he considers the offhand possibility of discovering a verminous new species somewhere in the thorny undergrowth.

Chris planned the picnic with scientific accuracy. I, naturally, would take on the food, and he got a car, scouted out the field, and arrived romantically with a kiss. We drove to the site and I stifled the New Yorker in me: the grass was thigh high. As I scaled the splintering old wooden fence, I could barely hear the warnings: “Watch those thorns!” I smacked a rogue ant that shimmied up my leg. Fresh! “Careful, Kerry, those are stinging nettles!” Stinging nettles? I thought the kamikaze bees would be the only Axis powers in the warzone. There I was—an American abroad, hacking through a jungle, ducking enemy fire. Typical.

When I finally arrived at the spot, I looked around. Grass, grass everywhere, and not a place to sit. I threw my blanket like a fisherman’s net over some spindly green leaves, and with a proud chin up, plopped down…as a thorn sank fatally into my derriere. I yelped, but then smiled lovingly and offered Chris some Provencal “Soupe au Pistou” Pasta and water spiked with elderflower and mint. I gobbled down my lunch as quickly as I could, and looked up at him expectantly. “Come on, I’ll take you home.”

Back at home, I reconsidered and compromised: I would only picnic on cricket pitches, where the grass is sure to be mown and a bathroom lurks just behind that ominous bunch of trees. I have since been on two other quite successful outings. I always did love to picnic in Central Park with sandwiches from Yura, or to barbeque salmon on the beach, and I just had to find the right way to do it across the pond.

This week’s recipes are perfect for packing to take along with you, be it to Central Park’s civilization or the uncultivated warzones of the wild. As ever, they are cheekily Francophile. Provencal “Soupe au Pistou” Pasta is a twist on the Provencal classic soupe au pistou, a vegetarian broth laden with petite green vegetables and spiked with basil pistou. Pan Bagnat is a southern tradition—salade Nicoise on bread and the best tuna fish sandwich you’ll ever have. And the all-American picnic staple, watermelon, is reset, jeweled with ruby raspberries and washed in rose water.

So pack up that Citron Pressé and get going. Just be careful where you sit…

Pan Bagnat Oxford

Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat

1 loaf of ciabatta, halved horizontally

1 head of green little gem lettuce, washed and cored, leaves separated

1 half of an English cucumber, thinly sliced

200 grams of albacore or yellowfin tuna packed in olive oil

200 grams of albacore or yellowfin tuna packed in water

¼ cup of mayonnaise

½ cup of pitted olives, preferably nicoise, divided and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Zest of ½ lemon

1 tablespoon of capers

½ teaspoon of anchovy paste

10 chives, snipped

Black pepper

  1. Toast the two ciabatta halves in a very hot oven for 3 minutes, or until the bread hardens a bit, but does not turn golden.
  2. Prepare the olive mayonnaise by blending together the lemon zest, ¼ cup of olives, and the mayonnaise in a mini food processor.
  3. Drain the tuna, and combine with the olive mayonnaise.
  4. For the dressing, combine the anchovy paste, olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, chives, capers, and the remaining ¼ cup of olives.
  5. To assemble the sandwich, press the tuna onto the bottom half of the ciabatta. Then line up the lettuce leaves and then the cucumbers on top. Pour the dressing over, and top with the bread lid.

Watermelon Rose Salad

Watermelon Rose Salad

Watermelon with Rose and Raspberries

¼ seedless watermelon taken off the rind, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 ½ tablespoons of rosewater

A handful of raspberries

  1. Arrange the watermelon in a kind of zig-zag pattern with the points facing up. You could also use a melon baller and mix the watermelon balls with the raspberries.
  2. Spoon the rosewater evenly over the watermelon, and scatter the raspberries over the top.
  3. Garnish with pink or red edible rose petals, or a small edible rose amidst the watermelon balls.

BON APP!

Picnicking at the Cricket Fields

Provencal “Soupe au Pistou” Pasta
serves 4

Soupe au Pistou PastaIngredients

  • The florets of 125 grams of baby broccoli (about 10 stems, or 1 ¼ cup of florets)
  • ½ cup of petite diced asparagus tips (8 stems)
  • Full ½ cup packed of petite diced zucchini (½ of a large zucchini)
  • ½ cup of petite diced haricots verts
  • ¼ cup of fresh, shelled peas
  • 500 grams of orechiette pasta
  • 1 cup of fresh green pesto

Procedure

  1. Set two pots of water to boil, and salt them when they begin to bubble.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente in one pot.
  3. In the other pot, blanch the vegetables, all at once for 1-2 minutes, and then cool them immediately in an ice bath or under very cold running water.
  4. Toss the vegetables, pasta, and pesto sauce together. Serve hot, warm, or cold.
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Categories: Recipes
 

Blog Update!

Good news, French Révolutionnaries! French Revolution has been updated and now has new features:

  • Links: Most of the restaurants that I love enough to mention are now linked in grey. Click on the link, and you will be transferred to the restaurant’s home page so you can check out the menu or make a reservation. Ingredients that may be hard to find are linked to online sources so you can find whatever you need to make these recipes.
  • Email Subscription and RSS Feed: You can now subscribe to French Revolution in one of two ways. Subscribe to receive emails of new content to the right of the page in the Subscribe section. Or scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for an RSS Feed through Google Reader. If you have a Gmail account, you are already registered with Google Reader. Go to www.google.com/reader to sign in and subscribe, and, like with the email feed, you will receive any new French Revolution content. Please do visit the site to count as a reader once you receive your weekly email!
  • French Revolution Recipe Archive: At the bottom of the page you will find a list of all the recipes featured in French Revolution. Click on the recipe, and you will be automatically redirected to the entry in which it was included. I hope this will allow you to use French Revolution as a cookbook, so you can just click and make dinner.
  • Monthly Poll: In the right sidebar, there is now a monthly poll, so French Revolution readers can compare their preferences on French food. This month? Wine! Make sure to vote! I will include a recipe on the winner.
  • English-Metric Culinary Converter: Because I use both English and Metric units, I’ve included a link to an automatic converter, to make your life easier.
  • Blogroll: Here you will find other related blogs that I find relevant and interesting…Just consider it your personal guide to the francophile Internet.
  • Email: Email me at FrenchRevolutionFood@gmail.com
  • Sources: Here I list online sources for buying ingredients that I feature in French Revolution, or that will be useful and delicious to any modern French cook.
  • Cookbooks: I’m foremost a writer and a reader, and here I list the cookbooks that I have on my shelf and that inspire me–ones I hope you will love as well.
  • Ads: At the very bottom of the page, Google provides linking advertisements related to French cooking. Feel free to explore!

I hope you will sign up for the emails, and find French Revolution more accessible and more enjoyable, and stay tuned for this Sunday’s post! Future improvements are on their way…

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Categories: Uncategorized
 

A Moveable Feast

RECIPE: Nutella Pot de Crème

At Blenheim Palace

scroll down for these Father’s Day recipes…

Lavender Steak

French Fried Leeks

Nutella Pot de Crème

My relationship with my father has been something of a moveable feast. I have written about our trip to the Ivy in London, and our fall-back meal plan after our dinner in my Oxford hall. And as I think back on it, nothing could be more appropriate than to chart the last twenty-five years with my dad one meal at a time. Every repast is a remembered photograph, because, ever since my parents separated twenty-two years ago, my father and I have been doing the unthinkable: talking with our mouths full.

My father knows many things, but he does not know how to boil water; like many New Yorkers, he uses his oven for storage. Also like most New Yorkers, he has a profound respect and relationship with food. I remember his colleague saying at a boisterous dinner party once over a decade ago that nobody was as small or had as large a stomach as my father. Ever since I was three years old, my father has been taking me out to dinner—as often as four or five times a week. It was our time together. It was not the traditional American six o’clock family dinner, but it was just as important and personal and special.

My father and I may have different culinary aptitudes, but we are exactly the same person in every other regard, most saliently in our self-definitions as “creatures of habit.” We rarely have more than 5 restaurants in heavy rotation at any one time, with the occasional and exhilarating jaunt to somewhere new—an awning glimpsed on a long walk, an overheard tip of gastronomical gossip, will send us on an expedition that will be talked about for hours, or weeks, or years afterward. When we remember the restaurant, we remember the hours we spent together, 1 year ago, five years ago, fifteen years ago, back to the beginning.

When I was about nine years old, my father would pick me up when I was still in my school uniform and take me to Steve’s pizzeria on Second Avenue, where we would share a whole pie, garlic bread, and salad. The place was a ’50s throwback, and we were regulars. They didn’t even take our orders, and we would be deep into conversations of Greek mythology or Egyptian mummification rituals over the Elvis soundtrack by the time the cheesy feast arrived. I taught my father about Athena and the Olive Tree, and he taught me how to fold a slice of pizza over my finger like a real New Yorker and to dip my crust in the olive oil that had dripped onto my wax-paper-lined paper plate. By the time I was fifteen, Steve’s had shut down, and so closed a chapter of my life. As I commenced the universal exploration of self known as adolescence, my father and I began to explore the world, sampling piquant Mexican at Maz Mezcal and colorful sashimi at Haru. While he taught me about the benefits of an Ivy League education or torts law, I taught him that green salsa is actually made from tomatillos, not green tomatoes, and that Japanese white tuna is actually a fish called escolar.

Now that I am, I suppose, something of an adult, my father doesn’t pick me up at home anymore. We meet all over the city, sometimes at places we’ve never tried before, like Big Daddy’s Diner on Second Avenue, and sometimes at places we’ve been going to since I was just born, like Malaga on Memory Lane, where I order the same Daily Double lobsters that I began eating as a culinarily precocious six year old. And now we order wine. But whatever the table, I realize now that my father who cannot boil water instilled in me a love of food that stems not from its creation, but its appreciation. Because a meal is not just about the flavor, about the art, about the science; it is about the people who look at you across the table, when you are talking with your mouth full, because there is just too much to say, because the table is where two autonomous people sit down together and admit through their fondness and through the frequency of their meetings just how emotionally unautonomous they truly are as loving human beings. Food becomes the ritual and the occasion that brings us all to the same place in space and time, and allows us to share it.

So these recipes this week are to my greatest partner in culinary crime: my dad, who cut up my pizza into bitesize pieces when I was small, and who lets me order the sashimi and the wine now that I am big. My Father’s Day menu takes the ultimate man meal, the steak, and gives it a characteristically French and unexpected twist. Lavender Steak is a spinoff of steak au poivre, but my filets are crusted instead with cracked black peppercorns and heady, peppery lavender blossoms for something sophisticated. The onion ring is given a facelift with my French Fried Leeks. And for dessert, something sweet: Nutella Pot de Crème that can be made in a flash.

I hope today, on Father’s Day, you can talk to your dad with your mouth full too. A moveable feast is a party that lasts a lifetime, that is spontaneous though it never ends, that is inspired though it never changes. Dad, to all the breakfast, lunches, dinners, and teas in between. To many fêtes…

Lavender Beef

Lavender Beef

Lavender Steak

2 .2 kg filets of beef

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

1 pinch-½ tablespoon of dried edible lavender blossoms

Salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of butter

*Lavender is strong, and its potency is a matter of personal preference. Use as much or little lavender as you feel comfortable—it will be flavorful in any amount.

  1. Put the peppercorns into a plastic baggie and hit them repeatedly with the back of a pan to crush them roughly.
  2. In a bowl, mix the lavender and crushed peppercorns.
  3. Season the filets with salt, and press them into the lavender-peppercorn mixture so that the blossoms and pepper crust both sides of the meat.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a small sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, gently place the meat into the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side for medium. Let the meat rest before cutting into it!

French Fried Leeks

French Fried Leeks

French Fried Leeks

The whites of 2 leeks, cut into long, thin strips

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

Salt

Vegetable oil for frying

  1. Fill a deep pan halfway with vegetable oil, and heat on medium high to 325 degrees, or until a pilot leek bubbles and fries in the oil without burning.
  2. Toss the ribbons of leek with the flour and dust off any excess.
  3. Fry the leeks until crisp and just golden—about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove to paper towels to drain, and crown immediately with a touch of salt.

BON APP!

Nutella Pot de Crème

Nutella Pot de CremeIngredients

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 160 grams of dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup of Nutella
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 scant teaspoon of granulated sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat the cream until it is just scalded.
  2. Put the sugar, chocolate, and Nutella in the blender, then add the hot cream.
  3. Careful of the steam, blend the ingredients together on low.
  4. Once the ingredients are combined, add in the egg yolk with the blender still running, and let blend for about 20 more seconds.
  5. Pour the mixture into little ramekins or egg cups, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.
  6. Serve with a large tuft of fresh whipped cream over the top.
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Categories: Chocolate, Desserts, Eat, Recipes