The Secret Ingredient (Membrillo) Part I: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

RECIPE: Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers
Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Apple and Pear Membrillo Turnovers

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There are certain foods that go hand-in-hand—that are so permanently paired, that if you’ve had one, you can’t have helped but have had the other. Peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, oil and vinegar. And because cheese is my very favorite food, it was only a matter of time before I was exposed to the jelly to cheese’s peanut butter: dulce de membrillo, or membrillo for short.

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Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, Pastries, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient

The Secret Ingredient (Wasabi) Part III: Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

RECIPE: Wasabi Chocolate Pudding
Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

Wasabi Chocolate Pudding

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Spice and chocolate have become so frequently seen together in recent years that I was not surprised when I spotted chocolate and jalapeno gelato the other day in the freezer section. It was this revved-up sweet-hot union that I wanted to explore using wasabi—a different kind of heat, but heat all the same.

This recipe began more as a kitchen experiment than a traditional recipe development, but I was so surprised that I kept it for The Secret Ingredient. I use something gourmet enough, wasabi powder, to add a boom-kick-pow to something quite a lot less gourmet—powdered instant chocolate pudding.

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Categories: Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient

French in a Flash: Boeuf aux Carottes

RECIPE: Boeuf aux Carottes

Boeuf aux Carottes

Boeuf aux Carottes

So much of my inspiration for my food comes not only from the home cooking Maman dished up over the years, but also the incredible restaurants I’ve been able to sit at in France and abroad. This dish, Boeuf aux Carottes, comes from a little restaurant in the Place Dauphine–and I didn’t order it, Mr. English did. He has great taste (obviously)! But I think I probably ate more than half because it was so good–cubes of beef collapsing into their sauce, sweet like sugar just from the abundance of carrots that added a sprinkle of sunshine to the dish. So humble, and so flawless. It warms body and soul, and I had to recreate it this week for French in a Flash, because I am absolutely freezing! I use short ribs instead of the traditional beef stew meat, but you could viably choose either. Bon app!

Braising Beef Short Ribs with Carrots

Braising Beef Short Ribs with Carrots

For the full story and recipe from my column French in a Flash on Serious Eats, as always, click here.

Boeuf aux Carottes
serves 4

Boeuf aux CarottesIngredients

  • 3 pounds beef short ribs

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon

  • 12 carrots, peeled (cut 6 into thirds, and 6 into penny coins about 1/2-inch thick)

  • 2 cups peeled pearl onions (I use thawed frozen pearl onions)

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 bunch of chervil, leaves chopped, stems reserved

  • 3 juniper berries, crushed (optional)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 3 cups beef stock

  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons flour


  1. In a wide, deep pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat.

  2. Season the meat well with salt and pepper, and sear the short ribs in the hot oil until crusted and browned on all 6 sides. Set the meat aside, and discard the oil.

  3. Add 1 teaspoon fresh olive oil to the pan, and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the 6 carrots that you have cut into thirds, reserving the copper penny carrots until later. Add the pearl onions, and garlic, and chervil stems, and bay leaves, and juniper berries. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté gently until the garlic is fragrant—about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the red wine, and allow it to lift any dark bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Nestle the meat back into the pan with the vegetables, and add the beef stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, and reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

  6. After 2 1/2 hours, add in the copper penny carrots. Stir into the broth, and cover, simmering another 30 minutes, so the meat will cook 3 hours in total.

  7. Make a beurre manié by smashing the butter and flour together. Set aside. This step is optional: it turns a runny, brothy sauce into something thick and coating, but you can either omit the thickening agent altogether, use half of it, or use all of it, depending on how you like your stews.

  8. After 3 hours, pull out the large chunks of carrots that have cooked for three hours, and the chervil stems and bay leaves and juniper berries if you can find them. Discard. Skim off as much fat from the surface of the stew as you can.

  9. Add in the beurre manié, if you are using it, and allow the stew to bubble for 5 minutes to thicken. Just before serving, stir in the chervil leaves.

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

French in a Flash: White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips

RECIPE: White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips
White Bean Bisque

White Bean Bisque

I’m in Florida, and it’s freezing! People roll their eyes, but we Floridians are entirely unequipped for this weather. If I were in New York, and it was thirty degrees, I’d wear a coat, maybe some gloves, but down here, it’s a free(zing) for all–I swear I still see t-shirts.

This week’s column will warm you up with minimum effort. I fry window panes of garlic to make garlic chips, and then use some of the garlic-infused oil to sweat out some shallots. Add to that some rosemary, and some canned white beans, a bit of stock or water, and 15 to 20 minutes later, you have soup–soup that’s rich, velvety, and aromatic of Provence, my summer oasis hallucination in this winter desert. You can easily make this more resolution-worthy by cutting out the butter and cream, although then it’d be less like a bisque, and more like bean soup, but I won’t tell…

Garlic Chips

Frying Garlic Chips

As always, click here for the full story and recipe from my column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.

White Bean Bisque with Garlic Chips
serves 4

White Bean BisqueIngredients

  • 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

  • olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 shallot, sliced

  • 1 sprig rosemary

  • 4 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans

  • 1 quart vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. In a small saucepot, heat just enough oil to deep fry the garlic chips—about 1/4 cup depending on the size of the pot.  Heat over medium heat.  When hot, add the garlic chips in, and cook until crispy and golden—but not brown and burnt.  Remove the chips to a paper towel with a slotted spoon to cool.  Reserve the oil.

  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a stock pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot, and sauté gently until just soft—3 minutes.

  3. Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the pot along with the rosemary sprig (leave the leaves on the stem) and the stock or water.  Season with salt and pepper, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil.  When the soup boils, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

  4. After 15 to 20 minutes, remove the rosemary sprig from the soup and discard.  Turn off the heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Stir in the cream—the residual heat of the soup will heat it through.  Serve the garlic chips as a garnish on top.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Recipes, Series, Soup, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian

The Secret Ingredient (Wasabi) Part II: Wasabi Pea-Crusted Seared Tuna

RECIPE: Wasabi Pea-Crusted Seared Tuna
Wasabi Tuna

Wasabi Tuna

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

I think it was my unhealthy college years when I first discovered the medicinal properties of seared tuna.Growing up, I used to make my mother cook my tuna steaks absolutely through, so they were splitting at the seams and dry as Bumblebee in a well-drained can.

But after a week of studying finance with an entire thin-crust Domino’s pie every night for a week, I decided it was time for something light. And happily, at a corner Japanese sushi bar, I stumbled upon my treasured “reset” food upon which I’ve relied ever since.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, Fish, Individual, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient


I have the best readers ever. Thanks to your votes, French Revolution’s pumpkin beignets won the miscellaneous division of Bon Appetit‘s holiday blogger bakeoff, and has made it into the finals, along with four other delicious, gorgeous desserts. Click here to see the final selection.

And thank you so infinitely much for casting your votes!

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Categories: Uncategorized


RECIPE: Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets
Spiced Pumpkin Beignets

Spiced Pumpkin Beignets

I went to a very feminist all-girls’ school in New York. There were all sorts of legends about the founder: a suffragette mauled to death on a wheel–they got more and more wild and heroic until she was the feminine reincarnation of Hercules, singled-handedly accomplishing the immortal task of securing women in the vote on the great, grey streets of New York. A great mural dominated the second floor hallway, of women doing men’s work. And in math, when we reached the number 19, we were told over and over again to remember: the 19th Amendment, in 1919 (even though we subsequently discovered it was passed in 1920).

Lesson learned? It may be painful, but you vote. Or else.

So, today, I graduate from pupil, to illustrious head mistress, telling you to VOTE VOTE VOTE your heart out for my Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets with Vanilla Bean Sugar for Bon Appetit’s holiday bakeoff. Like my heroic suffragette academic forebear, I can’t do it alone. Plus, there are no cog wheels involved in this kind of voting. It’s all gastronomic pleasure as you meander through pages of holiday desserts to die for.

Follow this link, register, and scroll through. My entry is in the “Miscellaneous” category. You can flip through by clicking “Vote on Next Batch,” and then just click on my Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets. It will turn green, and then, just cast your vote!

And truly, THANK YOU.

Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets
makes about 45 beignets

Spiced Pumpkin BeignetsIngredients for the Beignets

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • Pinch salt

  • 6 tablespoons water

  • 1 stick butter

  • 1 cup flour

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and grated (only for gilding the lily; optional for Thanksgiving)

  • Vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients for the Vanilla Bean Sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 used vanilla pod

Procedure for the Beignets

  1. Combine the pumpkin, Bourbon, spices, brown sugar, salt, water, and butter in a medium saucepot.  Cover, and sit over medium high heat until the butter is just melted and the mixture is bubbling.

  2. Take the pan off the heat, and dump in all the flour at once.  Using a wooden spoon, stir forcefully and rapidly until all the flour is absorbed.  Place the pan back on the heat over medium-low heat for 30-45 seconds, until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.  Decant the hot dough into a large bowl.

  3. Stir the dough around to cool it off, and then add the eggs one at a time.  Add one egg, and use the wooden spoon to stir it in.  You could also use an electric hand mixer.  Once the egg is absorbed, add the next, and then repeat for the third egg.  The final pumpkin spice choux pastry should be smooth, thick, and sticky.  The perfect way to gild the lily for Thanksgiving is to add 1/2 peeled and grated Golden Delicious apple to the pastry dough now, before frying.  It adds autumnal sweetness and moisture that is irresistible.

  4. Heat a deep pan half full of vegetable oil until it registers between 310 and 325 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Drop in teaspoon-sized amounts of dough in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan and effectively drop the temperature of the oil.  Fry the beignets for 6 to 9 minutes.  The trick is to allow them to fry until they crack.  The fissure will expand.  That is what creates the puff inside the beignet.  When the fissure and the rest of the beignet are about the same color, six to nine minutes should have passed, and you’ll know the inside is cooked.  Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.  Toss with the vanilla sugar (recipe follows).

Procedure for the Vanilla Bean Sugar

  1. Vanilla sugar is the perfect way to use up scraped vanilla pods that you’ve used in other recipes like crème brûlée.  Save the pods in a baggie, and then decant the sugar into a bowl.  Use your fingers, and get some of the sugar into the crack in the split vanilla bean; then scrub with the sugar as though you were scouring a pan with salt.  You won’t believe how much vanilla is still left inside, and it is more than enough to make vanilla sugar for these beignets.

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