French in a Flash: Mustard Braised Beef

RECIPE: Mustard Braised Beef
Mustard Braised Beef

Mustard Braised Beef

In England there is a Sunday tradition of a roast, and when it comes to the holiday season, my heart demands that roast must be a braised brisket.  It’s never too early to start celebrating Hanukkah.  Warm, crumbly, comforting.  Doused in gravy.  How can you not salivate thinking of it?

This Sunday, I tied a brisket in the shape of a roast, and braised it with whole garlic cloves, onions, thyme, and dry mustard, blipping away in Cognac and wine and beef broth.  The result was slices of tender and intensely flavorful beef.  Then, I turned the braising bath and beef juices into a gorgeous, thick, sweet onion and hot mustard gravy.  The zing of the Dijon and whole grain mustards cut through the heaviness of the meat, and gave it a different, complex, more interesting taste than just a plain beef gravy.  A Frenchified English-Jewish classic.

We ate it at a big table in the kitchen, with all the doors to the London garden wide open even in the autumn chill.  It was just right somehow.  Heavy food, a cold bite in the air, and light company.  And two whole boules of bread to sop up that mustard gravy.  Keep the leftovers for sandwiches and slather with extra mustard.  You won’t be disappointed.

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

Mustard Braised Beef
serves 4

Mustard Braised BeefINGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 pounds brisket, tied in a round with butcher’s twine

  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, skin on

  • 1/3 cup Cognac

  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine

  • 3 cups beef broth

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tablespoon whole grain mustard


Rub the brisket all over with the mustard and thyme, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours to overnight.

Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil over medium-heat in a Dutch oven.  When the oil shimmers, brown the meat on all sides: this should take about 12 minutes.

Set the meat aside, and add the onions to the pan.  You may need to add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if the pan is too dry.  Sauté just until slightly softened, about 1 minute.  Deglaze with the Cognac, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Place the brisket back in the pot, along with the red wine and beef broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover the pot, and simmer for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, set the meat aside to rest.  Boil the liquid in the Dutch oven vigorously until 4 cups remains.  Lift out the garlic cloves, and squeeze the contents back into the pan.  Pour the liquid, onions, and garlic into the food processor.

Mash together the butter and flour until well combined, and add along with the two mustards to the food processor.  Whiz until smooth.

Cut the twine off the brisket, and slice into thin slices.  Serve with the mustard gravy.

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

Franglais: Apple and Celeriac Slaw

RECIPE: Apple and Celeriac Slaw
Apple and Celeriac Slaw

Apple and Celeriac Cole Slaw, but with more flavor!

Some people celebrate birthdays and weddings and anniversaries and graduations.

I celebrate celeriac season.

I’m not kidding.  Seeing those straight-from-outer-space bulbs in the produce section sends me in a fit of rapture, and I usually clap my hands together, gasp, and do a little jump before I realize that I have to keep it together in public.  Celeriac, which has a texture between a potato and jicama and a flavor akin to celery but much gentler and more delicate, is best served raw in a slaw.

If you love Cole Slaw, but are ready for an upgrade, try this slightly American take on the classic French celeriac rémoulade.  I grate celeriac and Granny Smith apples, and toss them in a sauce of good French mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice.  Tons of parsley and cracked black pepper finish it off.  The result is something different and fresh and crisp, slightly sweet, very savory.  It’s perfect as a slaw, as a topping on greens, even served on an improvised Reuben sandwich.

Next time I see one of these babies in the produce aisle, I may not hide my hysterics.  We should all celebrate celeriac.  And adding a new vegetable to your repertoire is always a good thing.  It’s like buying a new book.  Whether you read it once or a hundred times, it’s always nice to see it on the shelf and know you can pick it up whenever you want to.

Excerpted from my weekly column Franglais on The Huffington Post.

Apple and Celeriac Slaw
serves 6

Apple and Celeriac SlawINGREDIENTS

  • 10 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • 2 pounds celeriac, peeled

  • 2 Granny Smith apples

  • 1 tablespoon reserved apple juice


In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Shred the celery root in a food processor, and add it to the large bowl with the rémoulade sauce.  Next, cut the cheeks off the apples, and shred them in the food processor.  Squeeze the excess juice out of the apple before adding it to the celery root, and reserve the juice.  Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved apple juice to the mixture, and toss everything together.  This tastes best if it sits covered in the fridge overnight, but you can serve it right away.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Turmeric, Onions, and Olives

RECIPE: Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Turmeric, Onions, and Olives
Turmeric Lamb Tagine

Turmeric Lamb Tagine

Turmeric is one multifunctional little spice.  It is used as a dye.  It is used to deter ants in gardening.  It is used medicinally, to fight memory loss and cancer.  It is used cosmetically to deter aging.  And, did I mention, it is used in foods, mostly in curries, but also as a substitute for saffron, and as a colorant in mustard.  There’s pretty much nothing that turmeric can’t do, considering that we normally see it in an innocent little glass jar on the spice aisle, not looking like much of a superhero.

But my relationship with turmeric is simple: I eat it.  And have, for as long as I can remember.  My Mémé is from Morocco, and I can’t count the number of t-shirt I’ve sacrificed to the yellow spice while watching and helping Mémé concoct her tagines as they bubbled and blipped on the stove.  I love that taste that I described last week as toasting earth, that is fragrant and almost floral, but also a touch metallic or bitter.  The idea that people use it only for its color is so frustrating, because its flavor is so distinctive and dynamic.

This tagine is inspired by Mémé, although it’s not of her creation.  I sear lamb shanks, and stew them with caramelized onions and green olives saturated with bright golden turmeric, a touch of cumin, and a cinnamon stick.  Cilantro and fresh mint finish the resulting tagine that is mildly sweet and intensely savory, colored and flavored by the very special and prominent note of turmeric.  Spooned over a bed of couscous, it doesn’t get much better than this.

It just goes to show you should never, ever judge a spice by its color.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Turmeric, Onions, and Olives
serves 4

Turmeric Lamb TagineINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 lamb shanks

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced in halfmoons

  • 3 garlic cloves, whole but peeled and smashed

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup medium-sized green olives, pits in

  • Cilantro

  • Mint

  • Couscous


Heat the olive oil in a high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper.  Sear the lamb in the hot oil until the lamb is golden brown on all sides.  It should take about 10 minutes in the pan.

Lower the heat to medium; place the lamb on a plate and set aside.  Immediately and carefully add the onions and garlic to the hot oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté, stirring often, until the onions are slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add the turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon to the onions, and sauté until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan.

When the wine has reduced by about half, add the vegetable broth and the olives.  Bring the liquid to a boil, and add the lamb back into the pot.  Cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 3 hours, turning the lamb over once in the pot.  Then, simmer uncovered for minutes, to allow the sauce to thicken slightly.  Serve over couscous and top with the fresh cilantro and mint.

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Categories: Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient

French in a Flash: Haricots Verts du Sud

RECIPE: Haricots Verts du Sud
Haricots Verts du Sud

Haricots verts, stewed with wine, tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and olive oil

I have been making this recipe for years!  Maybe I didn’t publish the recipe because they are my best friend Anna’s favorite.  But she is always telling me to share, so here I go.  These are haricots verts, fine French green beans, stewed with all the flavors of the South: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, wine, and a few shallots for good measure.

What I love about the French is that they are genuinely not into the trendy, undercooked vegetable.  French vegetables are COOKED.  And these are no different, stewed well past the point of tender crisp until they are soft, and sweet, and punchy from the tomato and wine.  These are good on their own, and I often have them in a big heap with a warm crust torn off a big loaf of country bread.  But they would also go beautifully on the side of a grilled salmon, or a seared whole fish, or on a big vegetable plate.  These are about as mighty and delicious as the little haricot vert can muster.  They don’t get better than this!

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

Haricots Verts du Sud
serves 2 to 4

Haricots Verts du SudINGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 small shallots, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, grated

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 pound haricots verts

  • 2 tablespoons dry rosé or white wine

  • 3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, pureed in a blender until almost smooth

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a wide high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the shallots, and sauté for 3 1/2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, and 15 second later, add the tomato paste.  Cook for 15 seconds, then add the haricots verts.  Toss with the tomato paste mixture, and add the wine.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the cherry tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, and simmer another 5 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Franglais: French Purple Potato Salad

RECIPE: French Purple Potato Salad
French Purple Potato Salad

French Purple Potato Salad, with pancetta, mustard, and thyme

I like doing things that don’t exactly break with tradition, but are just ever so slightly different.  And therefore, special.  Just a little bit of thought can change the same ol’ same ol’ to a showstopper.

Enter potato salad.  I love nothing more than to head to the deli counter and buy the traditional stuff full of mayo and onion and gherkins.  But French potato salad is a bit different.  It’s mustard- and vinaigrette-based, rather than built on mayo, and usually involves a little bacon.  How can that be bad?

So, when I saw a bag of purple potatoes for sale at the supermarket for a buck fifty, I thought, now is the time to make showstopper potato salad.  It starts with crispy pancetta, and a vinaigrette made from the pancetta drippings, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and spicy Dijon mustard.  Added to that is the sharp zing of fresh shallot, and the earthy, grassy flavors of fresh thyme and parsley.  In the warm vinaigrette bath I plunge my hot purple potatoes.  I toss them and let them sit and toss them again, until they have little drunk up all the pancetta and vinaigrette and mustard into themselves.  Serve them room temperature, and you will never, for better or worse, be tempted by the deli counter again.  It is the best potato salad I’ve ever had.  Suddenly, the humble potato has reached its fully Versailles potential.  Plus, no mayo to go off at a picnic.  The French think of everything…

Bon app.

French Purple Potato Salad 2

Excerpted from my weekly column Franglais on The Huffington Post.

French Purple Potato Salad
serves 4 to 6

French Purple Potato SaladINGREDIENTS

  • 2 ¾ pounds purple potatoes, halved or quartered

  • Salt

  • ¼ pound cubed pancetta

  • 10 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley

  • Freshly ground black pepper


Put the potatoes in a big stockpot and cover with water by at least 2 inches.  Season with salt, cover, and cook over high heat until just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette.  In a wide sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat.  When it shimmers, add the pancetta, and cook for 3 minutes.  Set the pot aside, and the pancetta will continue to crisp while it cools.

Once the pancetta is cooled, add the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallots, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Whisk until emulsified.

Drain the potatoes, and put back in their big hot stockpot.  Pour the vinaigrette over the hot potatoes, and gently toss to coat.  Allow to sit, tossing every now and again, until completely room temperature.  The potatoes will suck up the dressing.  Serve at room temperature.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, Starches, Vegetarian

The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Maman’s Yellow Peas & Onions

RECIPE: Peas & Onions
Peas and Onions

Maman's Peas and Onions

My mother has been making these peas my entire life.  They are one of the dishes I call home ahead about.  “Mom, I’m coming home next week.  Will you make your peas and onions?”  I’m not sure why she makes them.  They’re not particularly French.  Or complicated.  But they are special–soft, sweet, savory.  Remarkable.

Turmeric doesn’t often stand alone.  It’s the cheap color substitute for saffron, or one in many ingredients in a curry.  It’s rarely special and remarkable.  But in these peas, it’s the main flavor, the headliner.  That smell like toasting earth, intense as its color.  Toasted in olive oil, mixed together with peas and sweet, soft onions.  That’s the dish.  Serve with baguette, and you’ll be a turmeric convert.

Excerpted from my weekly column The Secret Ingredient on Serious Eats.

Peas & Onions
serves 2 to 4

Peas and OnionsINGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced

  • 1½ teaspoons turmeric

  • 2 pounds frozen peas

  • Salt


Heat the oil in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over high heat.  Add the onions, and sauté until soft, stirring often for up to 10 minutes.  Add the turmeric, and stir into the onions.  Add the peas, and season with salt.  Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, on medium-high to high heat, for 40 minutes.  Serve with baguette.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vegetarian

French in a Flash: Niçoise Panzanella Bread Salad

RECIPE: Niçoise Panzanella Bread Salad
Niçoise Panzanella

Niçoise Panzanella Bread Salad, with black olives, green beans, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, tuna, herbs, lemons, and BREAD!

Some people say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Don’t reinvent a classic–it’s a classic because it’s perfect as is.  Which, is true.  But even though this panzanella is something of a reinvented Salade Niçoise or Pan Bagnat, I’m not reinventing it to improve it, but so I can find more ways to eat it because I love it.

Salade Niçoise is iconic, as is the Pan Bagnat which is just a Salade Niçoise sandwich.  This is somewhere in the middle: a bread salad full of all the flavors that make a Salade Niçoise a Salade Niçoise: cherry tomatoes, tender blanched haricots verts, anchovies, garlic, lemon, olive oil, thyme, basil, and the best part–albacore in olive oil.  All tossed with toasted, crusted cubes of bread that soak up all the flavor and make it a meal.  It’s salty, fresh, crisp, and bright.

So like I said, this is one more way to eat your Salade Niçoise.  And who doesn’t want that?

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

Niçoise Panzanella Bread Salad
serves 4

Niçoise PanzanellaINGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups day-old bread, cut in 1-inch cubes

  • The juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly cracked black pepper

  • 7 ounces haricots verts, halved and blanched until tender crisp

  • 45 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 30 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

  • 12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and roughly chopped

  • 1 cup baby arugula, roughly chopped

  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil

  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

  • 1 5-ounce can of albacore in olive oil, drained


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast until just golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the haricots verts, cherry tomatoes, olives, anchovies, arugula, basil, parsley, and the lemon-thyme vinaigrette.  Then, add the tuna and bread croutons to the bowl, and gently toss until everything is combined.  Let sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Soup, Soup & Salad