Broccoli and Brie Soup
The best part about the holidays has to be the surprises. Glancing at that bulging stocking as it gets stuffed throughout the month. Wishing for Superman’s X-ray vision as you secretly and silently investigate those wrapped and bowed boxes from across the room. The news that so-and-so is coming home when you least expected it. Headlines that Santa really does exist seem somehow completely believable in a season where surprise is the rule of engagement.
Right now, I am back in Florida, where I spent some time growing up, celebrating the holidays amidst bedazzled palm trees, on the verge of a melt down–or rather, a freeze up. I suppose ’tis the season for a white Christmas, but anticipated wind chills below 20 degrees in Palm Beach? Now, that’s a surprise.
Orange Peel Shrimp
For all that I write about on this site, you might think that my grandmother and I sit around plucking escargots every time we meet for lunch. But our true tradition is a hedonistic Chinese lunch, with fortune cookie reading-aloud time for dessert. And while some of our other dishes may change depending on the week, the one thing we always order is orange peel shrimp: sweet, spicy, savory, and tart all at once, it’s meaty and perfect and the kind of thing I always thought I could never in a million years recreate at home.
How wrong I was.
Apple and Pear Beignets with Vanilla Sugar
For some, the holidays are about faith. For me, suffice it to say they’re about food. We all know the story of Hanukkah: a drop of oil burned for eight miraculous nights. Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, how I adore you! I love grease—always have, and always will. So, if there’s a holiday that celebrates the deep fried, you can count me among the pious.
Every year for Hanukkah, I make two things: Maneschewitz granita and beignets. Last year I did a Provençal lavender and apricot edition, but this year, I wanted something more wintry, more Nutcracker. And though I didn’t use sugarplums, there’s something about the late autumnal fruitiness of apples and pears with the black dappling fresh vanilla seeds that goes so perfectly with Arabian coffee.
The Croque Monsieur Burger
Children are picky eaters. Some of them seem to be on a perpetual hunger strike. And while moral fortitude and tenacity are admirable at any age, parents mostly seem thrilled when their child finds one thing they are willing to eat. Although my parents might have been less than thrilled, because for me, that food was bacon cheeseburgers.
I can still remember my old bacon cheeseburger haunts: The Beach Café and Jackson Hole in the East Sixties in New York, and Joshua’s up in Woodstock. And many places in between, because like an honest addict, I couldn’t go very long between. I loved that rare, crumbling meatiness of the burger, mixed with the soft enveloping blanket of cheese that seemed as comforting as a down duvet on a December day, the way it stuck deliciously to the roof of my mouth. And on top of that, the crisp winter-fire smokiness of the bacon, like the smell of a nearby chimney on a cold day, just chewy on the verge of crisp. It was perfect, and I loved it. And I ate it.
Roasted Endive and Pear Salad with Roquefort
The endive and Roquefort salad is a popular one, but for good reason. The bitter crunch of the endive and piquant creaminess of Roquefort balances the smooth and the intense. The sweet pear and woody walnuts are the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the salad—never far behind, and almost always found together.
I am not someone to stand in the way of whatever works. But there is a tradition in France of baking endive, usually in a gratin, where it’s rolled in ham and smothered in Gruyère: now that is delicious. So I thought, why not try roasting the endive and pears, to soften the former, and intensify the latter. I pile them into a composed salad with soft, baby arugula, the requisite walnuts, and a drizzling of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Planks of spicy Roquefort shingle the top. It’s a wintry take on the perennial salad.
Roasted Endive And Pear Salad With Arugula, Walnuts, And Roquefort
- 4 Belgian endive, quartered lengthwise
- 2 Bosc pears, cored and stemmed, cut into 8 pieces each
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for dressing the salad, to taste
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 4 ounces Roquefort, cut in 4 slices
- Balsamic vinegar, to taste
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- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Arrange the endives and pears in a single layer on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet. Toss with salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Arrange the walnut halves on a small, rimmed baking tray and put in the oven with the endives and pears for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. When toasted, roughly chop the walnuts.
- Allow the endives and pears to slightly cool. Arrange on top of a bed of baby arugula. Top with walnuts and slices of Roquefort. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
Quiche is like a great pair of jeans: There is no time when either is inappropriate. These days, jeans will get you into a Broadway play, a New York diner, and even, if you’re lucky, an office. So base and simple, they’ve become elegant, a canvas left blank to suit your fancy.
And then there’s quiche. I love the kind of food that you make, and then have one slice of right out of the oven. Then, you swaddle it in plastic wrap, and when lunch rolls around you sneak over to the fridge for another slice. And then for dinner. And then for breakfast again. And then, suddenly, it’s gone. Perpetually appropriate, hot, cold, or warm, quiche isn’t fussy. It doesn’t demand anything of you except your appetite—no predilections or cravings.
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: Bread & Butter, Breakfast & Brunch, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Eggs, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Tarts, Quiches, Pizzas, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
Daube Roast Beef Sandwiches
Daube is the kind of under-the-radar French fare that doesn’t have a big name. It’s no boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, or onion soup. You’ve probably never heard of it. But once you have Daube you quickly add it to the canon of French classics in your repertoire. It’s a time-honored, wine-based French stew that I’ve had mostly in the southern parts of France, flavored with herbes de Provence and, in this case, orange and olives. Think of it as a boeuf bourguignon that replaces the heavy flavors of bacon and mushrooms with punchy, bright flavors of sunnier skies. It’s memorable. Memorable to me, mostly, because it appeared nightly on the Provençal prix-fixe menus of every restaurant I frequented in the summer of 2009. Daube has now become something a family joke because we ate it almost every other night for a month!
This French in a Flash take on the summer Daube dinner is a bit of a French sloppy Joe-meets-cheese steak. I make a kind of Daube stew sauce from sweet onions, carrot, orange, garlic, and oil-cured black olives with rosé wine and stock. Into the simmering sauce goes high-quality bought sliced roast beef that soaks up the sauce as though it had been stewing all day. The meat gets piled into a crusty garlic-rubbed baguette or roll, and eaten greedily for dinner with a cold glass of whatever’s left in the bottle of rosé. It’s casual, but like Daube, pungent, punchy, unexpected, and unforgettable. An effortless, but flavorful, every-night dinner.
Daube Roast Beef Sandwiches
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 half medium yellow onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline
- 1 half small carrot, peeled
- 1 clove of garlic, whole but bruised, plus 1 large clove, whole and peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
- 5 French oil-cured black olives, roughly chopped
- 3 wide strips of orange zest, made with a vegetable peeler
- 1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry rosé wine (red or white would do as well)
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/2 pound excellent quality thinly-sliced rare roast beef
- 1 thin baguette, or 4 French rolls, or 4 small Kaiser rolls
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- In a 9 inch sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, bruised garlic clove, and carrot, sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent but not golden.
- Add herbes de Provence, olives, orange zest, and flour, cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Add wine and allow to reduce for 30 seconds. Add beef stock, and whisk to pick up all the bits on the bottom of the pan, and to incorporate flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Separate the slices of beef, and add to the pot. Take the pan off the heat, and stir the beef into the sauce. Cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the carrot, orange zest, and whole garlic cloves. Discard.
- Toast the baguette or rolls in a toaster on the ‘bagel’ setting or under the broiler. Cut the remaining whole garlic clove in half, and rub the hot, crusty bread with the cut side of the garlic. Pile the meat into the bread, and serve with chilled rosé wine.