French in a Flash: Trout en Papillotte

RECIPE: Trout en Papillote
Trout en Papillote

Trout en Papillote

When I was growing up, Meme would sing me this lullaby about how the fish swim in the sea, and the birds fly through the air. But when I bought Rusty, my goldfish, in college, I learned that with the help of some planes, trains, and automobiles, fish can travel however they like.

For this week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats, I write about Rusty’s bravery, and the late-learned lesson that just because you’re a fish doesn’t mean you have to just stay in the water. The recipe is trout en papillotte, a whole trout, stuffed with woody herbs and citrus and butter, and roasted in a packet made of parchment that, if you’re hungry, is just as fun to tear open as a birthday present. Click here, as always, for the full story and recipe. Bon app!


Rusty, 2005

Trout en Papillote
serves 2

Trout en PapilloteIngredients

  • 2 butterflied whole trout

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

  • 2 teaspoons butter

  • 6 sprigs thyme

  • 6 sprigs rosemary

  • 4 slices lemon, plus extra lemon juice for drizzling

  • A handful of watercress or pea shoots

  • Salt and pepper

  • Two large rectangles of parchment paper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Rub the trout outside and in with olive oil to coat. The more thoroughly you do this, the less likely the fish will be to stick to the parchment. Season them each inside and out with salt and pepper.

  3. Open the trout up like a book, and stick 3 thyme and 3 rosemary bookmarks in the center. Add in 1 teaspoon of butter for good measure. Close the book--your place is saved for later. Place two slices of lemon on top of each trout.

  4. Prepare the packages by tossing the fennel with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Divide in half, and place a small mound in the middle of each sheet of parchment. Lay a trout on top of each fennel mountain. Then seal the package. Bring the edges of parchment parallel to the length of the fish up, and fold and fold and fold again until the fold rests sealed against the fish. Then folds the ends up like a Christmas gift, and fold under. All the folds will seal in the steam and the flavor.

  5. Bake the trout for 15 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, toss the watercress or pea shoots with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. When the packages come out of the oven, cut them open at the table, and top with a bit of greenery.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series

How Humpty Dumpty Lost His Head: Eggland’s Best, and the French Revolution

RECIPE: Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon
Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon

Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon

You may remember that recently I entered my little savory crustless quiches with fines herbes and chevre into the Eggland’s Best blogger recipe contest.

The night of the dinner to announce the winner, I was sitting rather nervously munching down grapes, waiting for the big reveal. The French-speaking man at Eggland’s Best began introducing the winning recipe.

“This recipe,” he boomed across the room, “comes from 1789.” He smiled towards me. I felt my heart sink. My recipe hadn’t come from 1789. But a historical recipe; how fascinating!

Then I looked up. He was still looking at me, and his smile turned to confusion. He began to look like he was wondering whether or not I was crazy. Then, whether or not I was stupid. I kicked myself under the table. 1789! The French Revolution! I jumped up, shaking and embarrassed. Me and my little quiches had won!

Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon

Today is Bastille Day here in Paris. A cause for celebration, especially here on French Revolution. Eggland’s Best has invited me to be this month’s guest contributor. I write about the black and white toile wallpaper in my bathroom at maman’s house, and about the little French peasant characters I have named that have stood, for better or worse, silent on the walls of my bathroom for nearly a decade. Marie-Louise, as I call her, has a basket of eggs in her hand, and is surrounded by a little knots of gabbling toile ducks and chickens, just outside her straw-roofed house that hiccups sweet smoke from the pipe chimney.

What I write about in this guest post is how the egg can be so many things, an ultimate Proteus of French cuisine. “My first recipe for Eggland’s Best, Mini Crustless Quiches with Fines Herbes and Chèvre, comes straight from Marie-Louise’s pot-bellied stove: rustic, hearty, wholesome, like sunshine. The second, Garden Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon, comes from the Manor House up the hill: refined, delicate, elegant, like moonlight.” I hope you will try the Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon recipe, not only because it’s delicious, but also because it is the perfect illustration of the tenets I set about when I started this blog: that French food can be elegant and luscious and honest, but so simple to make. And after all the hours I’ve been spending in a French cooking school, learning the ancien regime, I could use a friendly reminder of the culinary revolution today as well.

And there is no better way to celebrate Bastille Day than with champagne, nor France in the summertime than with strawberries.

Strawberries with Champagne Sabayon
serves 8

Strawberries with Champagne SabayonIngredients

  • 4 Eggland’s Best egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Pinch of salt

  • 3 tablespoons champagne

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries


  1. In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt with a hand mixer for about 1 minute, until the mixture becomes pale yellow.

  2. Set the mixture in its bowl over a pot of simmering water, careful that only the steam and not the water itself makes contact with the bowl.  Continue mixing with the hand mixer for 4 minutes.  The mixture should double in volume.

  3. Add the champagne, and mix another 2 minutes.  Spoon over the berries.

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Categories: Desserts, Eat, Fruit, Recipes

Le 14 Juillet!

Le TricoloreHappy Bastille Day, Révolutionnaires!

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French in a Flash: Sliced Steak with Chunky Two-Olive Tapenade

RECIPE: Sliced Steak with Two-Olive Tapenade
Steak with Tapenade

Steak with Tapenade

A wedding registry is always brimming with items to equip a kitchen like a well-stocked fortress. A cherry-pitter, just in case cherry pits happen. (Full disclosure: I have one!) But with my friend Lauren, who is getting married tomorrow, I wanted to give her something to do with all those knives and food processors. So, I made her a recipe: Sliced Steak with Chunky Two-Olive Tapenade.

This week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats gives a glimpse into our lives at Princeton, and the eating clubs that sat us down to dinner together. I think this food might be a bit better though… As always, click here for the whole story!

Bon app!

Sliced Steak with Two-Olive Tapenade
serves 2 to 4

Steak with TapenadeSteak Ingredients

  • 2 12-ounce New York strip steaks

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Herbes de Provence

Steak Procedure

  1. Season the steaks with the olive oil, and a liberal amount of salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Sear the steaks 6-7 minutes per side, then allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Slice, and serve with the two-olive tapenade.

Tapenade Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 2 cups mixed pitted nicoise and picholine olives

  • The leaves from 5 stems of fresh thyme

  • ½ tablespoon anchovy paste

  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • Salt and pepper


  1. Demolish the garlic clove in the food processor.  Then add in all the rest of the ingredients and pulse until you are left with an olive rubble.  Spoon over the hot sliced steak, and serve extra on the side with baguette.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series

Paris Post: Berthillon’s Raspberry Rose

Berthillon's Raspberry Rose

Berthillon's Raspberry Rose

Berthillon is Paris’s most famous ice cream shop. And that’s saying something, because every day when I walk by the various ice cream shops throughout the city, the lines snake out onto the sidewalks, and around the street corners. But Berthillon is by far the most reputable, and the most revered.

It is located on the quaint little island Ile St. Louis in the middle of the Seine. It is a shop rimmed by boutique florists, tiny shops of precious treasures, and gourmand specialists. Berthillon’s flavors are always an exquisite homage to French tastes: Fraises des Bois, Salted Butter Caramel, and my favorite, Raspberry-Rose.

I went a few days ago, and ordered by usually Raspberry-Rose Sorbet. But now they have a new addition! Fresh raspberry creme Chantilly. Of course, I had to ice the cake. It was stupendous. You must try it the next time you’re in Paris. But my secret for when I’m back home? I buy a carton of Haagen-Dazs raspberry sorbet, and let is soften just a bit on the counter. Then, I stir in some rosewater or rose extract, and stick it back in the freezer. Ile St. Louis on the island of Manhattan!

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Categories: Paris, Voyages

French in a Flash: Pistoued Lamb Brochettes with Bay and Seared Olives

RECIPE: Pistoued Lamb Brochettes With Bay Leaves And Seared Olives
Bay Brochettes

Pistoued Lamb Brochettes With Bay Leaves And Seared Olives

I learn more about life in cooking school in Paris than I do about cooking. But then, life is a lot like cooking, isn’t it? You toss a bunch of different things together, close your eyes, and hope it all comes out alright. This week’s French in a Flash is for Serious Eats is all about the little lessons on love and on life that I have garnered from the French chefs here in Paris, which they disguise as advice on how to poach an egg, or how to roast a chicken.

The recipe is Pistoued Lamb Brochettes with Bay Leaves and Seared Olives. They are fit for the summer grill; tender lamb is robed in a fresh summer pistou of mint and basil, skewered onto kebabs, and left to cook in the smoke of charring fresh bay leaves. It’s unexpected, but just right. As always, click here for the full story and recipe. Bon app!

Pistoued Lamb Brochettes With Bay Leaves And Seared Olives
serves 4 to 6

Bay BrochettesIngredients

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 cup basil leaves

  • 3/4 cup mint leaves

  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 2-pound leg of lamb, deboned, trimmed, and cut into 1-1 1/2-inch cubes

  • 32 fresh bay leaves

  • A handful of large, pit-in green olives

  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

  • 6-8 soaked bamboo skewers


  1. Create the herb pistou by whirling the garlic clove through the food processor. Pulse in the herbs. Season with salt and pepper, then stream in the olive oil. Toss the pistou with the lamb in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, soak 8 bamboo skewers in water to prevent them from burning.

  3. Make the skewers by starting with one cube of lamb. Then stack 2 fresh bay leaves, another cube of lamb, 2 more bay leaves, and then a third and last cube of lamb. Prepare all the brochettes this way.

  4. Heat a large grill or sauté pan over medium-high to high heat. Working in batches, sear the brochettes for 5-6 minutes on each side. Throw a few olives in with each batch, and flip them around every so often as they char.

  5. Serve hot or at room temperature with the olives and freshly torn mint leaves and lime wedges.

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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series

Paris Post: La Cave de l’Os a Moelle

Audrey Hepburn Sabrina Souffle

Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina

Right now, I feel like Sabrina–I have moved to Paris to go to cooking school. I have even taken to wearing little black pants like Audrey Hepburn.

I won’t be here for long, but after spending my first week in Paris in bed with a cold, I now, finally, feel like the luckiest girl in the world. As I write this, from my little apartment (with no kitchen), huge glass book-cover windows thrown open, the Sunday morning church chimes are echoing in. This is Paris. While I’m here, as when I was in Provence, I would love to share with you some of my eating adventures. Pictures may be harder to come by, but I’ll try where I can.

Last night we went to a restaurant called La Cave de l’Os a Moelle, in the fifteenth. It sits down an unassuming street, just across from the aptly named l’Os a Moelle restaurant (which means bone marrow). This is its cave, or wine cellar.

We were seated at what seemed like an up-turned giant rope spool, with stools all around, in this fabulously urban-meats-rustic kind of auberge. On the table were greeting grated salads of beets, of carrots, of celeriac. Then there was green peppercorn and liver pate, blood sausage pate, rillettes. Huge rustic breads sawed into chunks. Crudites, including the requisite long red and white radishes, with homemade mayonnaise. All of this, as with everything in the restaurant, is a volonte–or, as we know it in the States, all you can eat.

La Cave de l'Os à Moelle

La Cave de l'Os à Moelle. Photograph from

One of my fellow cooking students knows her wines, and we go for a Cotes de Valcluse, followed by my absolute favorite Cahors Malbec, which is cheap even in New York, so you can imagine what it costs in Paris, and why Fitzgerald and Hemingway usually moaned over a bottle of it to each other at La Closerie de Lilas in the Twenties. Chin chin, tout le monde!

At this point, we are absolutely brimming. Ironically, being in cooking school leaves you a bit malnourished, as I haven’t had time to do anything other than run around a kitchen in six days. Eating has been my last priority. My stomach is shaking its head at me, wagging a finger, and moaning–you’ve put me through the wash, and I’ve shrunk. There’s nothing you can do; don’t force it.

Photography from

At the back of the restaurant, there is an honest-to-goodness black iron urn, with a waving white sea of the smoothest cream of cauliflower soup which I lap up with my spoon the way my dog laps up his water. Then, back to the back stove. Every night, the restaurant decides on its main dish; you won’t know what it is until you get there. Last night, it was falling-apart pork in a wine sauce and fresh egg noodles. So, we tuck into that. The pork is sliced thin, but still stewy and collapsing–the sauce a mixture between reduced wine and demi-glace. The noodles have bits of oven roasted tomatoes and strands of spring onions coursing through them. Hot from the stove, they seemed to emerged jumbled from the little straw cottage on my mismatched navy and white toile plate.

Three courses and three bottles of wine in, I began to collapse like my pork. But now the cheese arrives: crottins of chevre and ash-covered tommes. The first sinks and pools when you cut it; the second crumbles and powders. I have to. If I have a stomach rupture later in the evening, I’ll just deal like it then. Scott turns to me and says, “You could get hit by one of those Parisian taxis on your way out. Better not skip the cheese!” He is very insightful.

Lastly, I wobble, laden by so much excess that I can barely lift myself off my stool, to the dessert bar. I’ve actually already snuck in an extra course of chocolate pot de creme (they also had vanilla) before the cheese, and the affable waiter laughs at me, “You’re cheating again!”

And I mutter back, “You’re trying to kill me!”

“Maybe so, maybe so,” he grins mischievously.

I take ile flottante–frothed, soft, and airy egg whites in a pool of custard. I leave the pain d’epices and the orange quatre quarts and take only a slice of chocolate loaf. I crumble it between my lips. The next thing I knew, I was in a taxi, and then in my bed.

The lesson? French cuisine is not always dainty, and not always fine. But last night, I ate like a king–albeit one of those Henries of five hundred years ago who gave into gout and alcoholism. But for one night, it was nice to feel more like Louis XIV than Audrey Hepburn. But luckily, when the bill came, I only handed over 30 Euros for the whole four hours we were there. I needn’t be either a king, nor a movie star. I guess in the end, with my new friends and my old French comfort food, I was just being myself.

La Cave de l’Os a Moelle

181 Rue de Lourmel
75015 Paris
Lourmel (M8)
+33 01 45 57 28 28
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Categories: Paris, Restaurants, Voyages