Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts

RECIPE: Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts
Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 1

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes

The one thing (among several others) that’s great about planning a wedding in Paris is getting to go there because you “have” to.

We “had” to go down a few weeks ago to administrate our wedding planning, and as such, we “had” to eat.  To keep our energy up, you know.  There’s this great thing about Paris restaurants: copycatting.  I think it comes down to the French insistence on seasonality, but if you see a special in one restaurant, you’ll see it in every restaurant.  A few years ago, in May, there was tomato tartare with fresh anchovies and white asparagus vinaigrette on every menu.  It was remarkable.  And this time, the plat du jour partout was lamb brochettes with thyme and haricots verts.  Skewers of tender medium-rare seared lamb in a thyme and lamb jus with simple steamed French green beans.  The perfect union of light, lean substance and fresh, bright flavors.

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 2

I don’t do knock-offs in most things, but when it comes to French food, well, I’ve made it my raison d’être.  I bought simple lamb loin at the supermarket, cut it into disks, and skewered it.  I seared it simply in very hot olive oil until it had a crust on the outside and a blush on the inside.  I deglazed the pan with some beef stock, and swirled in fresh thyme and a lump of cold butter for the perfect cross between a jus and a gravy.  And alongside: simple French green beans, which never fail to be just the right accessory.

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 3

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Tender Lamb Brochettes with Thyme and Haricots Verts
serves 2 to 3

Lamb and Thyme Brochettes 2INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of lamb loin, cut into 1-inch discs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1 teaspoon, cold
  • 11 ounces of haricots verts, trimmed


Bring a stockpot of water to the boil.  Preheat a wide skillet on high heat.  Skewer the lamb onto the bamboo skewers, leaving a little space between each piece of lamb, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil to the skillet, and sear the lamb for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side, for a total of 2 to 3 minutes, until medium-rare to medium.

Set the lamb aside to rest.  Meanwhile, add the beef stock and thyme to the hot skillet.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter, and take the sauce off the heat.

To prepare the haricots verts, salt the boiling water.  Blanch the haricots verts for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender.  Drain.  Return to the pot with the remaining teaspoon of butter, and stir to coat.  Serve with the lamb and its thyme sauce.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series

Turkey and Porcini Meatballs with Rosemary and Polenta

RECIPE: Turkey and Porcini Meatballs with Rosemary and Polenta
Turkey and Porcini Meatballs on Polenta

Turkey and Porcini Meatballs on Polenta

My meatball addiction knows no bounds.  If made correctly, meatballs are actually so much lighter than MEAT.  Pillowy, more delicate, easier to portion-adjust.  And so versatile and easy to throw together.

This is my “Tuscan-inspired” meatball ragu over polenta.  Rustic and comforting.  Full of the woodsy twang of rosemary and the earthy punch of porcini mushrooms.  And it couldn’t be easier.  Just throw all the meatball ingredients in a bowl–lean turkey, fresh rosemary, dried porcini mushrooms, Pecorino Romano cheese–and gently mix together and form into balls.  Then, the meatballs are simmered in a gussied-up bought tomato sauce, and poured over creamy quick-cooking polenta.  It’s comforting and hearty, but because of the way we cook the polenta and the turkey (as opposed to beef) in the meatballs, it’s actually really light.  I serve it with a big green salad.
From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday! Continue reading
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Categories: 30 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series

Seared Tuna with Niçoise Vegetables and Garlic Butter

RECIPE: Seared Tuna with Niçoise Vegetables and Garlic Butter
Tuna with Niçoise Veggies

Tuna with Niçoise Veggies

I was in a meeting the other day at the office, when my friend pulled out a take-out box from the office cafeteria, and excused herself.  “I’m starving,” she said.  “I just need to have some lunch!”

There are some meals at my office cafeteria that I look forward to (veggie dumplings and pickled vegetables is worth scheduling meetings around), but generally, I’m pretty jaded.  Or I was.  Until Issy opened up the paper box to reveal a gorgeous spread: seared tuna steak, new potatoes, green beans, and a lemon wedge.  The perfect summer meal.  Evocative of French seasides with striped umbrellas and big sailboats.  Suddenly, my panini from around the corner began to pale into oozy, woozy insignificance.  I had such overwhelming food envy, that I went home, bought all the ingredients, and recreated it for dinner.

This dish is inspired by a Niçoise salad; but it gets rid of all the salad parts and leaves the essentials.  Fresh tuna, crusted in sea salt and herbes de Provence, seared for just three minutes in olive oil until barely cooked through.  Tender crisp haricots verts.  Creamy baby new potatoes.  Roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine.  All tossed in a garlic- and lemon-infused warm olive oil and butter sauce, littered with shreds of fresh basil and torn parsley.  Served warm, it’s light and bright, but also so flavorful and a little bit decadent from the sauce.  It’s the perfect summer meal.  A real feast, but light enough so that you don’t fall asleep in the afternoon at the office.  You may, however, daydream about places you’d rather be.  St. Tropez.  Cannes.  Antibes.  St. Jean Cap Ferrat.  Some things can’t be helped.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app! Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

Gastropub at Home: What I’m Making for the Opening Ceremony

RECIPE: Jamie Oliver's Sausage Rolls

As many of you know, I live in London.  Which means, the Olympics are upon me.  And while I am going for the first time in my life, I couldn’t swing tickets to the Opening Ceremony.  So I’m bringing the party to my little London flat, inviting some friends over to watch what’s going on a few miles from here on the TV, and tucking into my interpretation of some British classics.  No, these are recipes aren’t mine.  But I thought this American transplant to Great Britain might share some valuable insight into the perfect London 2012 menu.

Pea and Mint Pesto Crostini

A fresh, light interpretation of mushy peas, the pub classic.  Only, I think, more sophisticated.  Click here for the recipe.

Mushy Pea and Mint Dip

Mushy Pea and Mint Dip

Sausage Rolls

The British version of the pig in a blanket.  Only, more rustic, and slightly less Mad Men.  Here’s the recipe.

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Stilton and Crackers

Stilton is my favorite British cheese.  I’m serving it with some hearty crackers and celery sticks.

Stilton & Cheddar

Stilton & Cheddar

Elderflower Jell-O with Berries

They are all about elderflower here, and elderflower Jell-O (or “jelly,” as the Brits call it) with berries suspended in it is so popular, you can pick it up in corner delis.  I’m making this version, although I may put blueberries and raspberries on top for a Union Jack meets Stars and Stripes theme.

Elderflower Jelly

Elderflower Jelly


The Brits love their real ale.  Mr. English recommends Betty Stoggs and Waggle Dance (or, as he says it, “Waggle Dahnce”).  Just serve a great local craft beer, and you’ll be very British.

Jamie Oliver's Sausage Rolls
serves 4


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed but cold
  • 1 egg
  • 12 chipolatas (about 14 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F.  Dust a clean surface with all-purpose flour and unroll the puff pastry.  Cut the pastry lengthwise so that you have two rectangles, each approximately 5 x 14 inches.  Beat the egg in a little bowl, then use a pastry brush to paint the pastry halves.  Line the sausage up so you get six on each half.  Bash 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar (I use a spice grinder) and spindle over.  Finely grate a layer of Parmesan over the sausages.

Fold the pastry over the sausages, then use a fork to quickly crimp the edges together so you end up with two long sausage rolls.  Pain these with the rest of the egg wash, then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.  Drizzle olive oil over the baking sheet, then roughly cut each long roll into ten smaller rolls.  Lay the rolls on the oiled baking sheet and put into the oven on the top shelf for around 15 minutes, or until golden and puffed up.

Excerpted (with some minor modifications from me) from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast

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Categories: Eat, Guides, London, Voyages

Veal Milanese in a Flash with Arugula Salad

RECIPE: Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad
Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad

Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad

The summer is tricky.  You’re for something substantial, but you want it to feel light.  Veal Milanese is the perfect dinner.  It’s fast.  It’s hearty.  It’s light.  And it strikes the perfect balance between indulgent and virtuous.  Fried meat, topped with a  salad.  Something for everyone.

Start off with two pieces of veal scaloppini.  You can either ask the butcher in the supermarket to pound it out for you, or, you can picture the face of your arch nemesis (not that you have one) on the meat and do it yourself with a meat mallet or a heavy pot.  Then, do a flash dip of the meat into a beaten egg, and then into a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.  Quickly fry in a sautépan (no need to deep fry and this only takes three minutes), and top with a salad of arugula, tomatoes, and more shaved Parm.  A squirt of lemon, and dinner is served.  It’s so good—sort of like Little Italy, light.

Of course, if you don’t want to use veal, you can definitely substitute.  I prefer pork or turkey, but you could also use chicken.

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday! Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series

Paris Knock-Off Fresh Tuna Tartare with Tomato and Basil

RECIPE: Tuna, Tomato, and Basil Tartare
Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

I had this dish in Paris last summer, and I had to knock it off.  The French are really into seafood tartares.  I just had a salmon version last weekend.  But they are generally the same: a bit of shallot, some dill, maybe some parsley.  A squirt of lemon.

And then I had this one, almost Provençal in its flavors.  Sweet basil.  Bright tomatoes.  And fresh tuna.  Tossed in olive oil and sea salt.  So good!  And it couldn’t be easier.  Just blitz together the basil, tomato, shallot, and tuna, then season with salt, olive oil, and a splash of wine vinegar.  I serve it with toasted baguette rounds.  So simple, and light, and honest, and good.

Paris, je t’aime!

Tuna Tomato Basil Tartare

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats. Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, Fish, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Individual, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

Fresh Rigatoni and Steak “Bolognese”

RECIPE: Fresh Rigatoni and Steak "Bolognese"

Steak Bolognese RigatoniI love, love, love a hearty rigatoni Bolognese.  Not a soupy tomato sauce, but a thick ragu that sticks to your ribs, with meat that you have to scrape off the bottom of your plate and onto your fork and into your mouth because it’s THAT good.  It’s perfect for ‘mixed company’: it’s the kind of food that men expect and exist off of, and the kind of food that women secretly hope they’ll have no excuse not to eat.

This recipe is my slightly more elegant, definitely easier, rather summery Rigatoni with Steak “Bolognese.”  I start with a piece of filet, instead of ground beef, salted and peppered and forgotten in the oven for around 15 minutes.  While it’s cooking, I blitz some carrots, onions, and garlic, and sweat them in a pan before adding a jar of my favorite marinara sauce from the store.  The vegetables add that chunky Bolognese texture to the sauce, while adding the freshness that anything out of a jar by definition lacks.  At the last minute, I boil some fresh rigatoni, which only takes four minutes.  Toss the pasta with the doctored-up sauce, and slice the steak super thin.  The meat is so tender it comes apart like a steak Bolognese.  I think I’m going to make this again tomorrow.

Sliced Beef Filet

Who can say no?

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday!

Fresh Rigatoni and Steak "Bolognese"
serves 2 with leftovers

Steak Bolognese RigatoniINGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounce piece of beef tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups excellent jarred tomato and basil or marinara sauce
  • 1 pound fresh rigatoni or pennoni pasta (or use dried pasta in a pinch)
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano to taste


Position the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Once the oven is hot and the water is boiling, you’re ready to cook.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.  Place the beef on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 130°F.  Depending on which end of the tenderloin you bought, it will take between 10 and 20 minutes.  Remove the steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest while you make the rest of the dish.

Put the carrot, yellow onion, and garlic in the food processor and pulse 20 times.  Scrape down the sides, and pulse another 20 times.  If you don’t have a food processor, use a box grater to get a similar consistency.

In a wide, high-sided sautépan over medium heat, add the olive oil.  When the oil shimmers, add the finely chopped or grated veggies and the thyme.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and fragrant, stirring often, for about 8 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and ½ cup of water.  Once the sauce comes to a bubble, cover it, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Five minutes before the sauce has finished cooking, and a handful of salt to the boiling pasta water and add in the rigatoni.  Cook until tender, but not mushy, and drain.  Add the pasta to the sauce, and keeping the pot still over low heat, gently toss the pasta and sauce together until most of the sauce is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is nearly dry.

Pour the pasta out into a serving dish, and top with grated Parmesan.  Thinly slice the steak, and arrange it over the top.  Voila!  A super-easy, high-class take on Bolognese.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches