French in a Flash: Creamy Broiled Scallops Mornay

RECIPE: Creamy Broiled Scallops Mornay

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going to Ireland to find French food inspiration, but I was in Kerry last weekend, and that’s just what happened.  I was in a little pub called The Blue Bull in the blink-and-you-missed-it town of Sneem, and I ordered what I thought was very usual: scallops mornay.  I don’t often mix seafood and dairy (excepting, of course, cream in my mussels), but I wanted to something at once light and decadent, so I ordered it.

I had the most gorgeous sea scallops and roe, toasted in their shells, on a bed of piped mashed potatoes, under a bronzed blanket of cheddar cheese béchamel, or mornay.  And I thought, what a great idea.

Here is my version: sweet, tender bay scallops and puny Paris mushrooms, broiled under a bubbling blanket of béchamel laced with nutty Gruyère.  Serve it right from the oven with a handful of parsley and a steaming baguette, and you have this incredibly rustic, simple, unusual, and delicious dinner that’s, as usual on French in a Flash, really easy, but worthy of company.

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

Creamy Broiled Scallops Mornay
serves 2


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby button, or Paris, mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 knifepoint of piment d’Espelette or cayenne
  • 1 knifepoint freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons grated Gruyère, plus extra for topping the gratins
  • 12 ounces bay scallops
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


Arrange the oven rack in the second position from the top.  Preheat the broiler.  In a small nonstick sautépan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and mushrooms.  Toast, stirring often, until the mushrooms are golden brown.  They don’t need to be cooked through.  Set aside.

To make the mornay sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk in the flour, and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Add the milk, and whisk.  Continue whisking with the pan over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and when you run your finger down the back of that spoon, the mixture stays separated—about 5 minutes.  Then add the piment, nutmeg, and 3 tablespoons Gruyère and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Lightly oil two wide ovensafe dishes.  Mix the scallops and the mushrooms together, half of each in each dish, and season with salt and pepper.  Spread in an even layer across each dish.  Pour half of the mornay sauce over each dish, and top with a tablespoon or so of extra grated Gruyère.  Broil for 10 minutes.

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

Dinner for Two: Gingerly Roast Pork with Thyme

RECIPE: Gingerly Roast Pork with Thyme
Gingerly Roast Pork with Thyme

Gingerly Roast Pork with Thyme

It’s easy to fall into the trap of cooking pasta during the week. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s good. But sometimes, after a long day, don’t you just want to tear into a piece of meat? Like, a serious roast?

This recipe is a bit genius, if I do say so myself. By using a pork tenderloin, you’re starting with a lean, relatively inexpensive cut of meat that’s full of flavor. I roll it in salt, pepper, some fresh thyme leaves (or you could use a bit less of dried if that’s what you have), and ginger preserves. That’s it.

Just place the pork in a baking dish, and scatter some baby zucchini around it. Bake it, and watch as the pork develops this gorgeous zingy-sweet crust all over the outside.

No searing. No making a side dish. The pork and preserves even make their own pan sauce. Just leave it in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes, slice it up, and serve. You have a roast pork dinner for two, inspired by honey-roast ham, but with so much more attitude. I recommend a little bit of salad and/or rustic wheat bread to go with.

As an aside, ginger preserves are one of my favorite ingredients. You may never even notice them in the supermarket, but they’re readily available; I use them in this pork, on salmon with soy sauce, in sesame noodles, on take-out inspired shrimp, and on cheese boards. It’s a great way to add the sweetness and texture of honey with the zing of ginger in just one ingredient.

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

Gingerly Roast Pork with Thyme
serves 2

Gingerly Roast Pork with ThymeINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons ginger preserves
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 6 baby zucchini


Position the oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Season the pork with salt and pepper, and roll in the fresh thyme so it’s seasoned all over.  Rub the ginger preserves all over the meat.  Lightly grease a ceramic baking dish with olive oil, and place the pork in the dish.  If any ginger preserves have fallen off the meat, pile them up on top of the pork, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Toss the zucchini with a light drizzle of olive and a pinch of salt, and scatter around the baking dish.

Bake until the center of the pork reaches 140 degrees F, about 15 to 18 minutes.  Turn on the broiler (leave the meat where it is), and broil just a couple of minutes until the preserves on top of the pork caramelize.  The pork should now be 145 degrees in its center.  Take the dish out of the oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Then slice the pork, spoon some of the ginger juice from the pan over the top, and serve with the roast zucchini and some lightly dressed salad and bread.

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

French in a Flash: Stoplight Piperade with Spicy Broiled Salmon

RECIPE: Stoplight Piperade with Spicy Broiled Salmon
Stoplight Piperade with Spicy Salmon

Stoplight Piperade with Spicy Salmon

I love quirky French regional dishes. Some, like sauce mistral—an almond sauce from Provence—for example, really haven’t make much of a splash. And others, like piperade—a pepper stew from the Basque country—have become international sensations (at least, in fashionable brunch spots).

Piperade is a stew made from peppers, onions, and tomatoes that is flavored with a very special, and very au courant, ingredient: piment d’Espelette. It’s a kind of exuberant red chili powder from the Basque region of France that is lightly spicy and very earthy. Traditionally, and in a lot of brunch places, as I was saying, the trend is to bake eggs on top of the stew and serve them together.

Well, I’m kind of bored of that, and I’m allergic to eggs. So here’s a new way to do piperade (and, incidentally, a new way to do salmon, which is always useful). Stew together the onions, garlic, olive oil, red, yellow, and green peppers, tomatoes, and piment d’Espelette low and slow until everything is soft and tumbling into each other. Then, pulse it to the texture of pico di gallo. Then, you can either broil salmon and spoon the cold piperade over the top, or set the salmon into the piperade and broil them together. The richness of the salmon is cut by the spicy, garden-ness of the piperade, and it’s a French dish with a decidedly Spanish accent. It’s light and healthy, but it packs that piment d’Espelette punch.

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

Stoplight Piperade with Spicy Broiled Salmon
serves 2

Stoplight Piperade with Spicy SalmonINGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette, plus a pinch
  • 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets


To make the piperade, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sautépan over medium-low heat.  When the oil shimmers, add onion.  Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic, bell peppers, and piment d’Espelette.  Sauté for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, and season well with salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat all the way down, cover, and cook slowly for 2 hours, stirring every half hour or so.  Then, take off the lid of the pot, raise the heat, and let it rip until the pan is nearly dry and the tomato broth has evaporated.  Transfer the piperade to a food processor, and pulse 6 times, until you have the consistency of a pico di gallo.

Adjust the oven rack so it is in the second position down from the heat source.  Preheat the broiler.  Transfer the piperade to a baking dish.  Rub the salmon fillets with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and piment d’Espelette.  Place the salmon on the piperade, and broil for 10 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and the salmon is cooked through.  Serve with warm bread.

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

French Revolution on Marie Claire South Africa!

MarieClaireScreenShot2A big thank you to Marisa and the team at Marie Claire South Africa for the fabulous feature today on  It’s a fun little interview about how I got started in food blogging, French deliciousness, and being a mouse in a cheese shop.  All with lots of pictures, links to my favorite recipes, and my mint tea video.

Thank you so much, Marie Claire, for thinking of this little corner of the Internet.  Thank you to everyone who reads French Rev down in South Africa.  And thanks to all the readers everywhere for making this blog so much fun to write.  Love you all!  Bon app.

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Categories: Finds

How to Make Moroccan Mint Tea

RECIPE: Moroccan Mint Tea

Just like Mémé taught me.

Moroccan Mint Tea
serves 4


  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 60 leaves of fresh mint (about 12 stems or 1 bunch), washed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


Pour the water, mint, and sugar into a tea pot.  Muddle with the back end of a wooden spoon.  Let steep 10 minutes.  Pour.  Enjoy!

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Categories: Cheap, Drinks, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian, Virgin, Watch

Dinner for Two: Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

RECIPE: Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon
Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon

There are three kinds of recipes.  The first are the kind that totally, for lack of a better word, suck.  Fool me once; I never make those again.  The second are the kind that are terrific, but they just feel like a one-off.  An occasion recipe, maybe, for novelty.  And the third are the most rare, and the most wonderful.  The ones that you make, and then make, and then make, and then make again.  For me, this crumbly, mustardly salmon is by far and away the third kind of recipe, so much so that, since my parents are in town, I am making it for them along with my Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons from French in a Flash a few weeks ago.

The concept is simple: salmon and mustard go well together.  I simply lightly butter the bottom of two store-bought fresh salmon fillets (my store makes sure they are skinless and boneless), and sit them in a skillet.  While they get crispy on the bottom, I make a kind of savory crumble of breadcrumbs, two mustards, thyme, and butter.  I pile it on top of the salmon while it’s still in the pan, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.  The salmon finishes cooking, and the crumbs gets crispy and nutty and tangy and spicy from the mustard.  It’s kind of like an easier, lighter, more elegant way of getting crispy fried fish, with a little French flavor and flair.

I serve it on a bed of blanched fine green beans, or next to a salad.  What’s next to it is not important.  It’s just about the salmon, so buttery, so tender, so good, and perfect, and earthy and wholesome, that I just can’t stop making it!  I made it for me and Mr. English, but he was late in getting home, so I took the opportunity to pack it up for lunch the next day, and served him some leftover pasta.  Shh!  I know, it was mean.  But the best food makes me very, very greedy, and very, very selfish.

I’m happy to report it’s just as good cold!

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

Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon
serves 2

Crumbly, Mustardly SalmonINGREDIENTS

  • 2 fillets of salmon, boneless and skinless
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the salmon
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


Preheat the broiler.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, mustards, and thyme, pinching the mixture together so the butter is incorporated and the mixture sticks together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the bottom of each fillet of salmon with a thin layer of butter.  Place the salmon in a preheated skillet over medium-high heat that is just large enough to fit the fish.  Sear for 2 minutes, to develop a nice crust on the bottom of the salmon.  Pile the crumbs on the salmon, and transfer to the oven, broiling for 4 to 5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are nicely golden brown.  Serve with haricots verts that have been blanched in salt water, and tossed with a little butter and fresh parsley.

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

French in a Flash: BBQ Coq au Vin

RECIPE: BBQ Coq au Vin
BBQ Coq au Vin

BBQ Coq au Vin

Some people get their kicks running marathons, or knitting, or surfing YouTube for hours a day.  I get mine reinventing classic French recipes.  This one is the fruit of last weekend’s experimentation with turning classic, wintry coq au vin into a summertime barbecue hero.

The flavors of classic coq au vin start with red wine.  Soaking the chicken in the wine all night is the French equivalent to a southern buttermilk bath: it tenderizes the meat, while staining it a gorgeous garnet.  Then, the chicken is seared in bacon fat, with mushrooms and pearl onions, and stewed in wine.  It’s stewy, with everything falling off the bone, and lots of red wine sauce for mixing into your mashed potatoes.  It’s delicious, and completely inappropriate for warm weather. Continue reading

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Categories: Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series