I love New York. Why go to India when I can eat at Tamarind? Or to Japan when I can sip udon at Haru? If I can get better exoticisms so close to home, then it certainly isn’t worth the trip to Maine, when the best lobster roll on Earth is just a few blocks away.
I thought that I had tasted the best lobster roll on Earth. I won’t get into it, now that I’m jostling another one ahead, but it was in Paris, and it was stirred up with lime and orange zests, and handed over with a pile of goose-fat fries. Not too shabby. Amazing, even. But my new favorite lobster roll has to be Luke’s Lobster, at home in NYC.
I’m sick in bed today, and even though I slept until 11:30 (that’s UK time), I still have to fill the hours until I can quell the sniffles and headache with another massive dose of sleep. So I snuggled down under the comforters and played 4 episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, in reverse order, from a British TV website. Having just come back from LA, I was miserable that I was missing the season.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Jamie’s: I love his casual attitude in the kitchen. Look, on one episode, a kid dropped a frying pan full of chicken on the floor, and Jamie said, “Three second rule!” That’s my kind of home cooking. I think he’s charismatic. And when his Italian restaurant opened in Oxford when I was in grad school, it was one of the few establishments in that town where I actually wanted to eat. I wish he could do something about Oxford dining hall meals! But why I particularly support his Food Revolution is because I remember so vividly the food we had at my elementary school growing up. Continue reading …
Looks pretty gourmet, doesn’t it? Thinly pounded, grilled chicken breast topped with an arugula, fennel, and apple salad. No one would assume you threw it together on a George Foreman.
This is such an easy, healthy dinner. Chicken paillard, inspired by French bistros, is just a thinly pounded (yes, you get to do the pounding!) chicken breast, lightly seasoned, and grilled in just 4 minutes. Mound a simple lemony salad on top, and you have the perfect, light dinner. The apple and fennel are crunchy. The lemon and olive oil pools down into the chicken. Guiltless and delicious.
Chicken Paillard Salad with Arugula, Fennel, and Apples
2 ½-pound chicken cutlets, pounded ¼-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby arugula
½ fennel, very thinly sliced
½ Granny Smith apple, very thinly sliced
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Preheat your countertop grill to the highest setting. Rub the chicken with the 2 teaspoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken paillards, one at a time, until cooked through—about 4 minutes. Toss the arugula, fennel, apple, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoon olive oil with salt and pepper.
Allow the chicken to cool just slightly, then pile the salad on top of the chicken.
As much as I love vegetables (and I do), I admit there’s no better way to eat them than when they’re bubbling in hot cream and covered in melted cheese. Vegetables have for so long been the healthy thing that has to fill that corner of your plate to make a meal wholesome. When they’re decadent, the meal takes on a special kind of indulgence.
I love cauliflower gratin, and this is my streamlined broccoli version. Baking the vegetables in crème fraîche, which doesn’t separate in the heat of the oven, means you don’t have to bother making a béchamel. The crème fraîche melts, and the cheese melts into it, without separating, so you have all the function of a béchamel, without the bother, and the whole gratin comes out lighter. Simply toss blanched broccoli with créme fraîche and grated Gruyère, then top it with more cheese and panko. The sauce pools and melts and cooks inside the little florets of the broccoli, and the top gets gooey and crispy. I could sit down and eat a whole plate of it myself. You may want to double the recipe–especially if I’m invited!
serves 2 to 4
4 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup crème fraîche
1 cup grated Gruyère
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons panko
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain.
Toss the broccoli with the cream fraîche, three quarters of the cheese, and salt and pepper. Spoon the broccoli mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the panko, and the remaining cheese. Bake until the top is golden and bubbling—30 to 35 minutes.
I recently contributed to a few pieces to MyRecipes.com, the website for magazines like Real Simple, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, and Health. When asked what my pick was for “the flavor you’ve got to have right now,” I chose my recent favorite Ginger Jam. Click here for the piece, and be sure to try these delicious Asian-inspired ginger oven ribs. Continue reading …
I was recently in my favorite restaurant in Paris, when I looked down and noticed something on the menu that I hadn’t before. Not that it wasn’t there; I just hadn’t noticed it. The Tuna Niçoise salad was labeled, “à ma façon,” which means, my way. Tuna salad, my way. And as it came out again, for the many-eth time, I realized, it was quirky and idiosyncratic and most certainly done to someone’s particulars. In truth, “my way” is a term I’ve seen quite a few time on French menus, to beg pardon or give warning that something classic might come out slightly artsy—read: better. Frank Sinatra would be beaming with pride.
Niçoise à Ma Façon
This sandwich is Croque Monsieur, my way. On that same trip, I ordered a croque monsieur just before I left. It was a far cry from the usual open-faced broiled ham-cheese-and-béchamel that it’s “supposed” to be. Instead, it was two different petite sandwiches, crusts trimmed, the sandwiches cut into dainty tea triangles. One set was stuffed with Jambon de Bayonne, similar to prosciutto, and Rebluchon cheese, the other with Paris ham and Comté. So, I can’t feel too bad about doing it my, distinctly American way: a grilled cheese sandwich, filled with smoky ham, a Dijon béchamel, a mix of Gruyère and sharp white cheddar, and window-pane slices of crisp apple. I like it my way. It’s my way or the highway, as I see it.
Paris Croque Monsieurs
Apple and Cheddar Croque Monsieurs
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the bread, room temperature
½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
4 slices white bread
4 thin slices Black Forest ham
½ Gala apple, thinly sliced
In a small saucepot, melt ½ tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk together. Cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the soft coats a spoon. Add the mustard, and one quarter of the cheddar and Gruyère. Whisk to melt.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread the cheese sauce on the other side of each slice of bread. Divide the cheese between the bread slices, on top of the cheese sauce. Then, divide the ham and apple between the slices of bread. Then, sandwich the croque monsieurs together. Grill the sandwich in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook until the bread is golden bread, and the cheese melted. Flip over, and do the same on the other side. Serve immediately.