French in a Flash: Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls with Crème Fraîche Icing and Walnuts

RECIPE: Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls
Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Roll

Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Roll

When I was young, I learned a lot of French words before I learned the phrase “French kiss.” And when I did, I needed some comfort chez maman. This week for French in a Flash on Serious Eats, I roll my American school and French home up into one perfect pastry: Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls with Creme Fraiche Icing and Walnuts. Using store-bought puff pastry stills gives you golden layers of croissant, the dark chocolate inside melts to a perfect sweet brown mess, and the top is sweet with white icing. And you can find the recipe and full text article here! Bon app…

Pain au Chocolate Cinnamon Roll Inside

Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12

Pain au Chocolat Cinnamon RollCinnamon Roll Ingredients

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

  • 1 tablespoon milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Mix together the sugars, cinnamon, and salt.

  3. Unroll both sheets of puff pastry, and paint both lightly with melted butter using a pastry brush.  You will have some butter left over.

  4. Divide the sugar-cinnamon mixture between the two sheets of pastry, spreading evenly.  Divide the walnuts and chocolate chips evenly across both pastry sheets.

  5. Use the remaining butter to grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

  6. Roll up both sheets of puff pastry, and use a serrated knife to cut each log into 6 cinnamon rolls.

  7. Place 1 roll in each muffin cup, cut-side-up.  If any of the filling falls out, just divide it between the cinnamon rolls.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, make the frosting by whisking together the powdered sugar, the crème fraîche, and the milk.

  9. Use a knife to help lift the cinnamon rolls out of the muffin cups and onto a wire rack to cool.  When they are cool, spoon the frosting over the top of the cinnamon rolls.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Breakfast & Brunch, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Pastries, Recipes, Series, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

BBC Recipe: Chervil Chantenay Carrots

RECIPE: Chervil Carrots
Chervil Carrots

Buttery Chantenay Carrots with Chervil

My favorite part of stew is the carrots. As one of the sides for my BBC Radio Oxford four-course French dinner, I updated the stew carrots in the Beef Short Rib Pot au Feu by roasting English Chantenays in the oven just until crisp, and then tossing them with sweet butter and grassy chervil.

One of England’s greatest culinary luxuries is, to me anyway, the Chantenay Carrot. You’ll notice these photos are of baby carrots, because in America, the Chantenay Carrot is a thing of fairytales, like Sir Lancelot, dragons, and gnomes. So if you can’t find the stubby little orange gems, go ahead and substitute baby carrots, or chunks of regular carrot cut on the bias, or even farmstand purple carrots if you can find them. But Chantenays are charming, darling, and best.

Some of the best things in life are the simplest. These carrots are roasted in the oven until they are tender, but still garden crisp, and tossed with cool, creamy butter and chervil, a tender anise-y herb in the parsley family. They take nearly no effort whatsoever, but are the perfect Pot au Feu accompaniment. Who doesn’t love carrots in their stew—this version is just a modern take: crisp instead of mealy, evocative of the spring garden instead of the winter furnace.

Pot au Feu with Carrots

Pot au Feu with Carrots

Chervil Carrots
serves 4

Chervil CarrotsIngredients

  • 1 pound/454 grams Chantenay carrots

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil, divided (substitute parsley if chervil is unavailable)

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/205 degrees C.

  2. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon chervil, and salt and pepper. Be somewhat liberal with the salt, to counteract the sweetness in the carrots. Spread the dressed carrots on a baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes.

  3. While still hot, toss with the remaining tablespoon of chervil, the butter, and a bit more salt and pepper. Serve!

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BBC Recipe: Beef Short Rib Pot au Feu

RECIPE: Beef Short Rib Pot au Feu
Short Rib Pot au Feu

Short Rib Pot au Feu

In my four-course modern French meal for BBC Radio Oxford, this streamlined stew from French antiquity plays the star role. In my next post, get the recipes for the Chervil Chantenay Carrots and Two-Mustard Garlic Baguette that I serve alongside…

Pot au Feu is a traditional French beef stew that translates literally to Pot on the Fire. A peasanty culinary relic, Pot au Feu usually combines several cuts of meat and marrowbones into a broth with vegetables, and can constitute a three course meal all on its own. The broth is served as a soup, the meat with mustard, the marrow with bread. But my greatest thrill in the kitchen comes from taking great traditions like Pot au Feu, and modernizing them, streamlining them to our way of life, and altering them to our contemporary tastes. To me, recreating a traditional dish is like renovating the old family home—the comfort and memories remain, but the style is more you, more elegant, more fun.

So, to renovate Pot au Feu, I use only one cut of meat, and as a concession to marrow bones, I use short ribs, a cut of beef that comes on the bone. Instead of dealing with a million different cooking times, you spend twenty minutes at the stove, and then just let it bubble away in privacy for three hours, until the meat falls off the bone, with no help from you. Unlike most stews that have lumps of meat, or traditional Pot au Feu, which is a conglomeration of meats, this dish maintains a mix of hominess and elegance, for in the center of the broth the short ribs appear like a island mountain jutting up out of the brothy sea, until you put your fork to the beef and it just melts apart. This dish is earthy, something you expect to be served inside one of those chimney cottages on toile wallpaper, but still chic. Instead of serving mushy stewed vegetables alongside, I make crisp roasted Chervil Chantenay Carrots, and instead of just bread and spicy mustard, traditional accompaniments, I stuff a baguette with a two-mustard garlic butter for Mustard Garlic Baguette. Because Pot au Feu is traditionally served with cornichons, I crown my version with cornichons and caper berries.

Pot au Feu with CarrotsI love this dish. It is a warm bath, and once you dip your toe, you want to dive straight in. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Beef Short Rib Pot au Feu
serves 4

Short Rib Pot au FeuIngredients

  • 2 small leeks, or one large leek (the leeks I find in England are generally large; the leeks I find in America are generally small)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 15 grinds cracked black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon rosemary, from about 1 stalk, chopped, plus 1 stalk
  • ½ tablespoon thyme leaves, from about 6-8 sprigs, chopped, plus 2 sprigs
  • 6 beef short ribs, totaling about 3.7 pounds/1.7 kilograms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves

A Note on Beef Short Ribs

When you go to your butcher to buy the short ribs, you’ll want to buy by the weight, rather than “by the rib.” Some ribs are meatier than others, so it may take more to reach the 1.7 kilograms you need. Ideally, you’ll find 6 chunky, meaty segments. You should also know that sometimes short ribs are sold in “segments,” as I call them: whole ribs that have been cut into halves or thirds. If you find them already cut by your butcher, then just ask him for 1.7 kilos worth. If they are longer, ask for that same weight, but then ask your butcher to trim them down into about two-inch pieces. He will expect this, and may even preempt your demand.


First prepare the vegetables. Make sure they are clean. For the onion, leave the bearded root end intact, and quarter the onion so that each quarter has a piece of the root. This will hold the onion together while it cooks and flavors the broth. Peel the onion, and stud with the one clove. For the leek, similarly leave the root intact. Trim off the dark green tops, and slit the white and pale green remains through the root, so that each half, like the onion, will remain intact. Trim the tips off the carrots and the celery. Halve the carrots across, and do the same with the celery.

Prepare the dry rub for the short ribs by combining the salt, pepper, ½ tablespoon rosemary, and ½ tablespoon thyme. Rub this combination all over the short ribs. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to ripple, place the meat in a single layer in the oil to sear, 2 minutes per side. Once all six sides have been seared, remove them to a plate, and put the vegetables into the bottom of the pot. If you have more meat than will fit at one time in a single layer in your pot, work in batches.

Arrange the meat back in the pot on top of the vegetables, and cover with the beef stock and the water. Add the remaining rosemary stalk, 2 thyme sprigs, and 2 bay leaves to the broth. Raise the heat to high, and cover, bringing the broth to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, covered, for 3 hours on low, until the meat is tender, and falls off the bone.

Arrange the meat and bones in a serving bowl, and pass all the broth through the strainer, separating the broth from the vegetables and stems and bay leaves. Skim the fat off the surface of the broth once it settles. Ladle the broth all around the meat, and garnish with some leftover chervil from the carrots or parsley from the bread, and a few cornichons and caper berries.

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Categories: BBC Radio Recipes, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, Watch

BBC Recipe: Baked Artichokes Stuffed with Roquefort and Walnuts

RECIPE: Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Baked Artichokes
Roquefort Artichoke

Roquefort-Baked Artichoke

For the BBC Radio Oxford, besides Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter segments, I recorded a series of four courses, for a simple Franco-English dinner that anyone could make any night of the week. This menu is something I adore, and of which I am most proud–and I have finally caught up with its airing schedule. Here is the starter: artichokes filled with a fondue of French blue cheese.

I adore artichokes. Normally, when I have them in France, I order what is called Artichoke Vinaigrette, a chilled steamed artichoke served with a perfect mustardy vinaigrette and some crusty, airy baguette. For me, it is lunchtime heaven. But sometimes it’s good to wander off the beaten path, and this stuffed, baked, nearly gratin-ed version, is a decadent and piquant departure.

4 Roquefort ArtichokesWhat makes artichokes so wonderful is their instant glamour. You’re not just serving a boiled green vegetable. Everyone gets his own, personal flower. It is the culinary answer to handing someone a bouquet. Plus, it’s so ritualistic. Pull off one petal at a time in a he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not kind of way, and the meal slows down. It gets a bit messy, and people laugh, and chat between the scraping and sucking of leaves. Artichokes are unique; they are fancy enough to impress those who come over but once a year, but fun enough to be a real treat for those with whom you eat each day. This version pairs the everyday verdure of the artichoke with a Marie Antoinette decadence of cream and Roquefort. The time in the oven makes the artichokes crisp and fragrant, and the cream and cheese melt into a little fondue for dipping at the heart of the artichoke.

Roquefort and Walnut-Stuffed Baked Artichokes
serves 4

Roquefort ArtichokeIngredients

  • 4 large artichokes

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 1 lemon

  • Salt

  • 10.5 ounces/.44 pounds/300 grams Roquefort cheese, at room temperature

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • 2 sprigs thyme, divided

  • Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons store-bought breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

  • 1 tablespoon parsley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

A Note on Preparing Artichokes

  1. Truth be told, trimming an artichoke requires instruction. Don’t be intimidated by the spiny flowers; they are easy to conquer. For this recipe, you’ll want to remove the stems. Using a serrated knife (the one with teeth that you use for bread), saw off the stem of the artichoke right at its base, so it has a flat bottom to sit on in the baking dish. You can cook these stems alongside the artichokes; just remove the thin outer layer of green skin with a paring knife, and cut off the very bottom of the stem. The rest that is exposed is all pale and tender, and very similar to the prized heart.

  2. Next, you’ll notice that most of the thorny leaf-tops of the artichoke meet at the top of the flower. Using the same serrated knife, cut off the top, about ½ inch or so. Then, because not all the leaves meet at the top, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the tops off the remaining thorny leaves. This all sounds very complicated, but actually is more like a quick art project that you get to eat afterward.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, add salt (as if you were cooking pasta) and the white wine. Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze all its juice into the water, then throw the whole lemon in after it.

  4. While the water is heating, trim the artichokes as instructed above. Cut off the stems so they sit upright. Saw off the top tip. With kitchen shears, snip off the spiny top of each leaf.

  5. Put the groomed artichokes in the briny, wine-y, boiling water, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/205 degrees C.

  2. Prepare the Roquefort stuffing by combining the soft Roquefort cheese with the cream, the leaves from 1 sprig of thyme, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Mash together to combine with a fork.

  3. After 30 minutes, take the artichokes out of their hot bath, and allow them to cool enough so you can handle them. Discard the cooking liquid and lemon. Once the artichokes have cooled, use a small spoon to scoop out the very inner leaves and the choke. You’ll want to be careful when you do this, for if you remove too much, the outer leaves will fall out, and you won’t have a well for your Roquefort. So just lift out the very central, pale leaves, and you will see at the bottom of the well the choke which looks thick husky hair covering the coveted heart. Just remove that hair, and leave the heart.

  4. Divide the stuffing into 4 parts, and gently pat it into the hollow center of each artichoke, and a bit into the leaves themselves.

  5. Prepare the topping by combining the leaves from the remaining sprig of thyme, the bread crumbs, the walnuts, the parsley, and salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over the artichokes. Drizzle the topping and the artichokes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes, and you will have a little Roquefort fondue in the center of each artichoke, in which to dip each leaf.

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My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part I)

RECIPE: Mémé's Moroccan Salmon

I admit, I didn’t buy my Mother’s Day cards until Friday–and I don’t even have to ask maman or Meme if they’ve received them, because I know they haven’t. But, I do think I got them both a pretty good present.

A few week’s ago, the lovely Sophia Brittan of the online cooking show Kitchen Caravan asked me if I’d like to do a show for the site. I could not have been more excited, as it was to be my very first filmed cooking show. For the theme, we decided on Mother’s Day: a fusion of Meme’s Moroccan and maman‘s French, for the perfect Mother’s Day menu. The idea behind these recipes is to learn, and to remember, and to reinvent the classic dishes that every family has, that have been in that family for decades or even centuries. Meme has been making this Moroccan salmon her whole life, and taught me a version of it when I was ten–but every woman in my family has her own version, and this is mine. I have added my own touches: replacing olive oil with dry French white wine in the salmon, adding a flash of hot harissa to the Olive Ratatouille. For maman’s famous creme brulee, I’ve added a dash of Morocco in the form of sweet, fragrant orange flower water. And for my own modern take on Meme’s requisite pure Moroccan mint tea, I’ve sweetened and spiked until I came up with the perfect Mint Tea Martini.

These recipes are dedicated to the two woman who not only taught me how to cook, but what to cook. Food is legacy, and heritage, and like blood and genes, it should always course from one generation to the next.

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you make these recipes for your mom today, or better yet, reinvent one of her old recipes and impress her today.

The recipes and videos are reproduced here, but can also been found, along with some tasty tips, at Kitchen Caravan

Mémé’s Moroccan Salmon

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Mémé's Moroccan Salmon

  • 6 carrots, cut into sticks

  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into sticks

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into sticks

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into sticks

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on salmon steaks, totaling about 2 ¼ pounds in weight

  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

  • 1 preserved lemon, chopped (use two if you really want to enhance this flavor)

  • ¼ cup dry white wine


Bring a pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Place the carrot sticks into the water to blanch. After 2 minutes, add the peppers. 2 minutes later (4 minutes will have passed since you added the carrots), drain the vegetables, and set aside.

Season the salmon steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup olive oil with the paprika. Toss the salmon in the seasoned oil to coat.

Now that you are rid of the vegetable blanching water, you can use the same pot—preferably wide, with high sides. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set the pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and peppers back in, along with half the garlic, parsley, and preserved lemon. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Add the white wine.

Nest the salmon steaks down into the vegetables, and pour the remaining paprika oil over the steaks in the pot. Top the steaks with the remaining garlic, parsley, and preserved lemon.

Lower the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, basting occasionally, and rotating the vegetables around the pot.

Serve with warm baguette.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Kitchen Caravan, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Watch

My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part II)

RECIPE: Orange Flower Crème Brûlée
Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

As featured in FrenchEntrée’s 100 French recipes to celebrate 100 issues of FrenchEntrée magazine

Orange Flower Crème Brûlée

Orange Flower Crème BrûléeIngredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus extra
  • 1 scant teaspoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • Zest of ½ orange


Heat the cream over a medium flame until it is hot, but not boiling. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and bring a kettle to boil.

Meanwhile, cream together the egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the sugar dissolves and the yolks are pale.

Add the orange liqueur, orange flower water, and orange zest to the yolk-sugar mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly stream in the hot cream.

Pour the crème brûlée mixture into 4-6 ramekins, and place into a baking dish. Pour the boiling water from the kettle around the ramekins in the baking dish, so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Allow the crème brûlée to cool in the water bath, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the broiler, or find your crème brûlée torch. Then, sprinkle the top of each crème brûlée with a layer of sugar, about 1 teaspoon per ramekin, and crisp the top until the sugar just bubbles and browns. Under my broiler, this takes about 8 minutes, but you want to be vigilant. Garnish with a candied slice of orange (recipe follows), a piece of candied orange peel, and/or some edible flowers.

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My First Cooking Show: A French-Moroccan Mother’s Day (Part III)

RECIPE: Mint Tea Martini

Mint Tea Martini


  • 2 ½ cups boiling water

  • 2 mint tea bags

  • 8 mint leaves, plus 16 mint leaves

  • ¼ cup water

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 1 cup vodka, very cold


Brew a pot of mint tea, with 2 ½ cups hot water, 2 mint tea bags, and 8 fresh mint leaves. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, then pull out the tea bags (leave the mint leaves), and refrigerate until very cold.

Make the mint syrup by put 16 mint leaves, lightly chopped, into a sauce pot with ¼ cup water and ½ cup sugar. Heat on medium-high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is translucent. Set aside to cool, and then drain.

In a large pitcher, strain the mint tea. Add the cool, strained mint syrup, and the vodka. Serve, garnished with fresh mint leaves.

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Categories: Cocktails, Drinks, Eat, Kitchen Caravan, Recipes, Series