Muscat Musketeer

Muscat Grapes

Muscat Grapes and Muscat Wine

I know we’re in the middle of a recession, but if I have one culinary extravagance, it’s fruit. I’d rather spend $2 on a pear that’s perfect, than $1 on a pear that’s hard as rock or mushy as meal and have to throw it away. Isn’t that devastating?! I even have a fruit dealer at my local market who can pick the perfect pear or pomegranate or plum or pomelo every time (he also, coincidentally, knocks some of the price off for me–thanks!).

Three years ago, my “dealer” introduced me to my latest addiction. I was at the market picking up my daily bread and cheese, and I wanted something to go with it. He smiled a grim little grin, like he knew he was letting me in for it. He plucked a perfect, plump grape, a lighter shade of pale green blushing Victorian rose. I popped it in my mouth, and my knees felt weak. Love at first bite. I knew at that moment that it was no apple in the Garden of Eden; there is only one fruit worth falling for, and it is the Muscat grape. The only catch? They were over $10 per pound. I actually saved up for grapes.

Now, April doesn’t mean rain showers. It doesn’t mean daffodils. It means that tiny window of Muscat grape eating is here again, and I’ve been eating them at a rate of about a bunch per day for the last week. Why? Because it seems that even Muscat grape stock is down! They’re selling at Whole Foods for just $2.99 per pound; only 50 cents more than regular unreliable sweet-tart green table grapes.

They taste of sweet flowers and what I imagine ambrosia must have tasted like. Sweet and fresh and fragrant. And you can wash them down with a glass of muscat dessert wine (made in France!).

The Musketeers were all for one, and one for all. I’m all for one thing too: Muscat! A Muscateer pour toujours!

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Categories: Finds
 

BBC: A Face for Radio

Kerry with Lemons

Digging for lemons in the Covered Market, Oxford

The BBC Radio Oxford website is up! It is in its skeletal form, but eventually, all the recipes, pictures, and links will be posted HERE.

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Categories: BBC Radio Recipes, Series
 

Dear Diary…

I HAVE A SECRET…INGREDIENT.

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

Every time I use it, people gape, mouth askew, and demand, “What is that?”

Pomegranate Molasses Cookies

Pomegranate Molasses Cookies

Actually, I have many secret ingredients, and now I have another new series at Serious Eats to showcase them. I love to shop, from Prada to parsley, and I hardly make it out of a gourmet shop without some little bottle of some dashing elixir tucked away for further use. Most of the time, they sound so appealing in the shop, but then they just sit there, alone and neglected in my pantry, and I have buyer’s remorse, just like when a dress goes unworn in my closet.

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

So, I’ve taken to experimenting: uncovering esoteric ingredients, and telling you what they are, where they come, and what to do with them, recipes included. March’s Secret Ingredient is one of my all-time favorites: Pomegranate Molasses, cheap and chic (and sweet/tart!). And in this month’s installment, I show you how to make Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies, and Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce for Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Pork Ribs.

Now, I’m sharing this secret with you. But shh! Don’t you tell on me…

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Categories: Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part III: Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

RECIPE: Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Mâche Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing

Pomegranate MolassesIngredient



  • 1 bag of mâche

  • 1 teaspoon grated shallot (from 1 very small shallot)

  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses

  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

  • ¼ cup light olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

  • Salt and pepper


Procedure


Combine the grated shallot, salt, pepper, vinegar, and molasses in a blender.  Blend to combine.


Slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running.


Remove the dressing to a small bowl, and stir in by hand the mustard.


Dress the mâche with just enough dressing to coat.


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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part II: Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

RECIPE: Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs
Pomegranate BBQ Ribs

Pomegranate BBQ Ribs

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs

Pomegranate BBQ RibsPomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce Ingredients



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • ½ sweet onion

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 15-ounce container of ketchup

  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • Salt and pepper


Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce Ingredients


Mash together the onion and the garlic in a food processor.  I always like to annihilate the garlic first on its own to get it really chopped, then add the ½ onion.


Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot on medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Add the thyme, and sweat for 5 minutes on medium low.


Add the ketchup, molasses, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard, cumin, and paprika.  Season again with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes.


Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs Ingredients



  • 4 pound rack of pork spare ribs or baby backs

  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce


Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Ribs Procedure


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.


Season the ribs with salt and pepper, and put onto a baking sheet, underside up.  Bake for 30 minutes.


Turn the rack over so that it is meat-side up, and bake for 30 minutes.


Glaze the whole rack of ribs with pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce, and bake underside up for 30 minutes.


Raise the heat to 450 degrees F, and while the oven is heating up, reglaze the top, meaty part of the ribs once again.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until charred.


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Categories: Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Eat, For a Crowd, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient
 

The Secret Ingredient (Pomegranate Molasses) Part I: Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

RECIPE: Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies
Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

Pomegranate Molasses and Pine Nut Cookies

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

There is a little something you should know about me: I love to shop. And while my closet can attest to that fact, so can my pantry. When I travel I am always sure to devote at least half a day to culinary pursuits—wandering through markets like the Boqueria in Barcelona, or visiting little gourmet shops in Paris. Inevitably, I return laden with corked perfumiers’ bottles of French rose extract, painters’ tubes of Moroccan harissa, and tiny ominous packets of Venetian squid ink. And when I’m grounded back home in the States, I still find excuses to dally around any corner gourmet shop, combing the aisles like a pirate who stands on the X on his map and expects, rightly so, to uncover unprecedented treasure.

I get a secret thrill when I bring out of these little bottles or jars, and guinea pig them on my friends and family. Inevitably, eyes widen in delight and speculation, and a general chorus echoes down the table: “Mmm! What is that?” I love revealing the answer: “Orange flower water!” “No!” “Yes.” All of a sudden everyone at the table feels like they are sharing in a gourmet adventure, whisked away to some corner of a forgotten world where everyone sits around snacking on orange flower water and Raz-el-Hanout. What they don’t know is that I paid less than three dollars for a bottle of the stuff just across town at Fairway.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Desserts, Eat, Pastry, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

French in a Flash: Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche
Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème Fraîche

Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème Fraîche

I didn’t know this about myself before, but I’m cheap. At least, these days it’s quite a la mode to be a recessionista. I went to the store to do this week’s French in a Flash for Serious Eats, and realized I was making dinner for 5 for about $12. I became totally ecstatic, like I’d just gotten away with the hugest deal of the century, and I wanted to run out of Publix before anyone caught on. Stingy never felt, or tasted, so good!

Puy Lentils

Puy Lentils

I made this dish for my father, because according to Brillat-Savarin (the French genius behind the statement “you are what you eat”), my father is a salmon disguised as a New York lawyer. He eats it every night, and he also can’t boil water. I wanted to show him that he could eat his favorite healthy food, and still make it himself. Voila! Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche.

Salmon and lentils are Fred and Ginger to the French; the perfect pas de deux partners. And nothing could be healthier, or easier, or more impressive. Bon app!

Salmon and Lentil Ingredients

Salmon, Lemon, Carrot, Shallot, Thyme, and Lentils

Crispy Salmon with Lentils du Puy and Two-Mustard Crème Fraîche
serves 4

Crispy Salmon with Mustard Crème FraîcheIngredients



  • 1 small carrot, diced as finely as possible

  • 2 small shallots, diced as finely as possible

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

  • Leaves of 2 stems fresh thyme

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 1/4 cups lentils du Puy

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water

  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, skin on, cut into 4 portions

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoon whole grain mustard

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • Fresh thyme, lemon slices, and mixed olives for garnish


Procedure



  1. Begin by making the lentils. Over medium-low heat, sauté the carrots and shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season them with the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, until they are just sweating and soft and fragrant.

  2. Add in the lentils, and season again with salt and pepper.

  3. Increase the heat to high, and pour in the white wine. Stir, and cook until the wine is absorbed. Add the stock or water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low, keep covered, and cook for around 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still have a good bite to them, and hold their shape. Drain out any excess liquid, and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the parsley. Adjust seasonings as needed.

  4. For the salmon, season the fillets with salt and pepper on both sides, and paint the soft butter on the skin side of the salmon. Use all of it, even if it looks excessive. This is what makes the skin so crispy and perfect.

  5. Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat, and add the 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it shimmers, carefully add the salmon, skin side down. It will splatter a bit, so drop the salmon into the pot slowly, and away from you. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn over, and cook for 3 minutes, or until you've achieved desired doneness.

  6. While the salmon cooks, prepare the mustard crème fraîche. Stir together the crème fraîche, 2 mustards, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.

  7. To serve this dish, spoon a mound of the lentils on a plate, and perch the salmon on top. Spoon the crème fraîche over the hot fish, and let it melt into the filet and into the lentils. Serve more sauce alongside. Garnish with a few lemon slices, some fresh twigs of thyme, and a few mixed olives.



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