French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Why do we have to take the good with the bad? I’d rather take the good and leave the bad. The same rules that apply to love also apply to French Onion Soup.
Everyone knows, indisputably, that the best part of French Onion Soup is the cheese. The cheese, that melts over the sides of the hot crock like thick, oozing curtains. That bubbles and browns and smells nutty and is like a huge welcome mat on a snowy evening. It’s the greatest soup there is: renowned, indulgent. But would that be the case without the cheese? I don’t think so.
Coq au Riesling
I once read that France is the same size as the state of Texas; and yet, like the much larger United States, France is full of regions with cuisines as distinct as Louisiana, Maine, and California.
This classic dish, Coq au Riesling, is a chicken stew with mostly the same components as Coq au Vin—except the vin in the recipe is not red, but a fresh, mineral-rich Riesling. The dish comes from Alsace, a region influenced by both French and German cuisines.
I love this dish because it’s lighter than traditional Coq au Vin, but still heavy enough to be considered comfort food. I like the creaminess of the sauce, spiked with bacon and mushrooms and onions and parsley, poured over the traditional buttered egg noodles that accompany the dish. In short, it’s a quirky classic, perfect for fall and spring, when you need comfort food that won’t weigh you down.
Coq au Riesling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 thick-cut strips of bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 chicken, in 10 pieces (2 breasts, cut in half, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings)
- Sea salt
- 1/2 onion, medium diced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 1/2 cups dry Riesling
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Melt butter in 12-inch, straight-sided sauté pan over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to paper-towel lined plate. Reserve fat in pan.
- Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel. Season with salt. Return sauté pan to medium high heat until lightly smoking. Add chicken pieces skin side down. Cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Remove pan from heat and transfer chicken to large plate.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pan. Add onions and mushrooms and cook on low heat until most of the exuded liquid has evaporated and onions have started to soften, about 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
- Add Riesling, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return chicken to pan and cover. Lower the heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Add bacon back to the pan, and season with black pepper. Simmer uncovered an additional 15 minutes until chicken is done.
- Using tongs, transfer chicken to large serving platter. Raise heat to medium-high, and reduce to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche and parsley, and pour over the chicken. Serve immediately, family-style, with warm, crusty, rustic bread or buttered wide egg noodles tossed with freshly chopped parsley.
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Apricot Rosemary Oven Ribs
The kitchen is full of surprises.
I have been eating ribs as long as I can remember. I love barbecue. Smoked and succulent, swimming in sauce, tangy-sweet. I can’t get enough. I can usually eat a man under the table, proving the old adage that Adam’s last rib ended up in Eve.
But I always thought of ribs as a summer food, best eaten outside, by a smoke-belching barbecue. Americana on a paper plate. But this week is anything but a grassy picnic table, red-checkered tablecloth, and ants attacking a watermelon. New York is gray streets and gray skies, turning cold, and raining. Not exactly ribs weather.
Except, that it is. Today is exactly the kind of day when you need stick-to-your-ribs fare, and what sticks to your ribs more than ribs? And I love foods with bones and shells. Maybe I’m secretly a caveman, but I find that, like the clams from a few weeks ago, foods you have to eat with your hands and crack and gnaw and throw into a bucket are so much more social and prone to laughter and food fights and fun. French food can be as casual as that; especially French-American franglais food.
Maple Soy Salmon
If I had to create an analogy out of sweetness and saltiness, it would be that sweet is to salty as maple syrup is to soy sauce. Though they are on opposite sides of the sweet-salty spectrum, there is something similar in maple syrup and soy sauce. Perhaps it is something in their color that gives them their depth of flavor, but I find a kind of resiny smokiness in them both—and thought it was about time I tried them together.
I marinate the salmon fillets in a simple sauce of maple syrup, shoyu (Japanese soy sauce), ginger, garlic, chili, and cilantro. Then, I quickly broil the fillets, while I reduce the marinade to a thick, syrupy glaze. I love the contrast of the sweet and salty, and also the American and Asian influences. It’s a dish that’s complex-tasting but simple to make, for something a bit out of the box—or bottle—when it comes to maple syrup.
Maple Soy-Glazed Salmon with Garlic and Ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 serrano chili, sliced
- 4 teaspoons slivered fresh ginger
- 4 teaspoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup shoyu or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 teaspoons maple syrup
- 4 6-ounce filets salmon
Combine all the ingredients but the salmon in a large Ziploc bag and whisk together. Add the salmon, and marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Preheat the broiler.
Remove the salmon from the marinade and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Broil for 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the marinade until it is reduce to 1/4 cup.
Smother the salmon filets with the glaze.
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Green Tapenade Pasta Salad
For me, it still feels like summer—that means stolen moments outside and late night grilled dinners. My stomach doesn’t feel quite as ready for fall, with its great stuffed roasts, as does my closet, with its new leather jacket and tall boots, and warm, tickling sweaters that make me crave a cooler day. And when eating French food in the summertime, it is always better to face South to Provence, where the wine and Champagne are served on the rocks, and the flavors are always light and bright and punchy as summertime itself.
When we think of tapenade, we usually envision a thick, smooth paste of black olives spiked with anchovies and garlic. But this version is tapenade’s boisterous blond twin: brinygreen olives are kept chunky and are smashed to a crumbling rubble with the usual Nice suspects of lemon, thyme, garlic, capers, and anchovies. Matching green penne traps all the salty bits and pieces in its tentacling tubes. A chopped emerald city of baby spinach and arugula turn this room-temperature pasta into a salad.
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Posted by Kerry |
Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
Maple Brown Sugar Crème Brûlée
We’ve all been burnt. Yes, it hurts. Sometimes there are scars. But there is also a sweetness to it. Caramel, don’t forget, is burnt sugar.
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Blah blah blah. The sweetness I’m talking about is not some prosaic remuneration in the form of self-betterment. Absolutely not. It is ice cream, or brownies, and the license, in the wake of an extensive emotion earthquake, to take solace is the sweeter things in life.
It is up to each of us to pick our poison, and mine is crème brûlée. Alas, there is something better in life than that man or that friend or that house or that paycheck. What man could be sweeter, what paycheck richer?
I started writing French in a Flash Classics because one reader wanted to know the recipe for pissaladière. I am happy to share mine here.
Pissaladière has played a big role in my life. My mother has been feeding various versions of it to me my entire life. It was part of my final exam in cooking school. And last summer in Nice I had what I consider the most authentic version of it I ever had on a street corner in the old part of town.
Pissaladière is a tart made on either a pizza-like dough or puff pastry. It can be rectangular or circular, though I find the rectangular more common. It is similar to pizza, except instead of sauce there’s a bed of sweet caramelized onions. Instead of cheese or toppings, there is a harlequin pattern of anchovy fillets and niçoise olives. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and the crust is doughy, chewy, and crispy all at once. It’s so satisfying as an afternoon snack, or as a light meal with a glass of chilled wine.
I have two secrets to my pissaladière: buy the dough, and soak the anchovies in milk. If you do those two things, you can’t go wrong. Cheers to a French Riviera lunch!
serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound store-bought
- Olive oil or nonstick spray
- 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies packed in olive oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 19 pitted Niçoise olives
- 2 stems fresh thyme
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 475°F. Shape dough into ball and place in medium bowl coated lightly with olive oil or nonstick spray. Cover tightly with plastic and set aside at room temperature.
- Combine anchovy filets and milk in small bowl and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to heavy-bottomed 12-inch sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until golden brown, about 40 minutes. If onions start to turn black, stir in one tablespoon water and continue to cook. Transfer to small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Roll dough on well-floured work surface with rolling pin into even circle about 12-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Spread onions evenly over surface, leaving one-inch border.
- Rinse anchovies gently in running water. Scatter anchovies, olives, and thyme sprigs over surface of pizza (see note) Season lightly with salt (anchovies and olives are salty), and drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the crust is golden, puffed, and crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Traditionally, pissaladières are designed in harlequin diamonds or sun-like rays, so use your creativity when applying the toppings.
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