Crème de la Crème

Crème de Cassis Label

Crème de Cassis

Thanks, Révolutionnaires, for voting in December’s French Liqueur Poll. The winner (trumpets, horns, drums): crème de cassis, a sweet black currant liqueur that garnered forty percent of the vote. The liqueur got its first big break in the Kir and its sequel the Kir Royale, and has been a star of Francophile cocktail bars ever since. But here’s a new idea: reduce some crème de cassis in a pan so that it is just a bit more syrupy, and spoon it over vanilla ice cream. It gives new resonance to the phrase crème de la crème.

Be sure to vote in January’s poll: Which macaron flavor do you prefer?

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Hair of the Dog

It is eight o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day, and I’m up. I never can sleep when I’ve had too much to drink.

Last night was shimmering–in that I like things that shimmer, but they also have a dull edge, without any clear resolution in my memory. Not even a New Year’s resolution. I’m a bit of an old lady at heart. I like silk and high necklines and pearls. I like staying home and reading in bed. I have been told that I am twenty six going on a hundred and six. I took it as a compliment.

So, when I find myself at a party, it is usually the goal of several persons present to see that I reach maximum capacity, and who try to fill my tank on fumes. I have an uncommonly high tolerance for alcohol, but congratulations, girls, last night was a success! I was a fish who fell into an uncommonly dry and bubbly tank, and who flopped around in it happily all evening.

If you, like me, need a bit of the hair of the dog this morning, try one of the six New Year’s Champagne cocktails I created for Serious Eats. And for New Year’s Brunch, which is a tradition in my family, I also created some suggestions. For me, New Year’s Brunch is about decadence to foreshadow fortune ahead, about carbs to soak up the champagne, and about efficiency so that even though I’m up, I don’t have to get out of bed for a while. And they will all be served with a bit of hair of the dog, a bottle of Perrier Jouet I saved for the occasion. All recipes follow.

Woof woof.

Champagne with Mint Syrup, Creme de Menthe, and Mint Sugar
Toasted Almond
Champagne with Amaretto and Toasted Almond Sugar
Nutella Champagne Shooter
Champagne with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Frangelico
Kir Royale du Bois
Champagne with Berry Vodka, Creme de Mure, and Blackberry Puree
Shirley Temple, All Grown Up
Champagne with Cherry Brandy and Fresh Cherries
Chic French 75
Champagne with Lemon and Gin, and Sugar Cubes
Smoked Salmon Fougasse
Fougasse is French focaccia. This recipe uses store-bought pizza dough, and tops it with Scottish smoked salmon, fried capers, and lemon creme fraiche for something better than your morning bagel.
Mache Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
Mache is a delicate leaf that is increasingly popular in the States. The dressing of seasonal pomegranate flavor makes use of my new favorite secret ingredient, pomegranate molasses. It is a Mediterranean pomegranate syrup that is sweet and tart and sharp and like nothing else.
Black Truffle Fettuccine
The piece de resistance. I read somewhere that white truffles are Italian; black truffles are French. The sauce is just truffle butter from d’Artagnan and cream. Easy peasy, and perfect.
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Categories: Recipes

Resolute. (Part I)

RECIPE: Brownie Bites, à la Framboise, et à la Menthe
Brownie Bites

Brownie Bites with Raspberry and Mint

This year, my New Year’s resolution is to cheat. I want to be a scoundrel; a low-down, good-for-nothing. Not in the bedroom of course, but in the kitchen.

Tonight I am invited to a friend’s big New Year’s bash. And she would like me to bring dessert. Immediately, being who I am, I start the tick tock of machinery in my head. Flavored brownie bites, like my Framboise-Framboise Brownies, and maybe Amaretti Cupcakes. My friend said everything should be bite-size.

Mr. English and my mother warn me not to put myself out. You want to enjoy the holiday, too, you know, and the Florida sun. My mother turns to me and says, “You know, Costco makes brownie bites.” The box houses 48 little two-bites of perfection, with crisp edges, and a molten center you could just about jump into and live in without missing the rest of the world.

“Costco!?” I turn, flaming with fury. “I would never!” Wouldn’t I? Mr. English challenges me to a game of petanque; the sun is shining, and a cool breeze is coming off the ocean. The kitchen begins to feel like a jail. I could make the glaze for the brownies, and no one would ever be the wiser. And for the Amaretti Cupcakes, well, I could use a Duncan Hines mix.

And, friends, that is exactly what I did. I made two glazes for the brownie bites–one made from fresh raspberries, and one from creme de menthe. After I topped them with fresh raspberries and mint leaves and the glazes hardened, they looked ready for glossy magazine shots. As for the Amaretti Cupcakes, I spiked the cakemix with almond extract, and made a glaze from Amaretto. A few slivers of almond on top, and they are ready for the party.

I am dirty rotten. A cheater, to the core. And I couldn’t be more proud.


Brownie Bites, à la Framboise, et à la Menthe
makes 48 brownie bites

Brownie BitesIngredients for the Framboise Brownie Glaze

  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thoroughly thawed

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 24 raspberries, for garnish

Ingredients for the Menthe Brownie Glaze

  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons crème de menthe

  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 24 mint leaves, for garnish

Other Ingredients

  • 48 brownie bites


  1. In two separate bowls, combine the glaze ingredients for each flavor. For the raspberry glaze, put the thawed raspberries into a blender, and whirl until smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve to catch any seeds. Add the resulting juice to the powdered sugar, along with the water. You’ll want to read the consistency of the glaze before adding the water—add until it is smooth and thick, but also runny enough to spread.

  2. For the mint glaze, mix the powdered sugar with crème de menthe (you can use white or green), peppermint extract, and water.

  3. When you dip the brownie bites, don’t put them in face down, and lift straight up, or you will form an air pocket that will mar the façade of the glaze. Instead, put them in the glaze face down, holding onto their bodies, and then pull out at an angle, allowing excess glaze to run off. Top with a fresh mint leaf or raspberry. Allow them to set before eating.

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Categories: Chocolate, Desserts, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian

Resolute. (Part II)

RECIPE: Amaretti Cupcake Bites
Amaretti Cupcakes

Amaretti Cupcake Bites

Amaretti Cupcake Bites

Amaretti CupcakesIngredients

  • 1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons almond extract

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons Amaretto

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • Sliced almonds, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mini muffin pan, place mini cupcake papers, and then spray each with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, 1 cup water, milk, vegetable oil, and almond extract until it just comes together as a batter. Spoon the batter ¾ of the way up each muffin tin. Bake for 22 minutes. You will need two muffin tins, or to do two batches.

Remove the cupcakes from the tins, and peel off the papers, allowing them then to cool completely.

Put the glaze together by adding the Amaretto and the 2 tablespoons water to the powdered sugar, and mixing until it forms a thick but runny glaze. Spoon over the top of the cool cupcakes, and allow it to run down the sides. Place a few sliced almonds on top of each cupcake for garnish.

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Categories: Recipes

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel (Part I)

Only, I didn’t make it out of clay. I made my Hanukkah this year, as do most of us, from brisket, potatoes, challah, and deep-fry oil. And though I didn’t exactly wait for my food to be dry, it did have to be ready before I could get into the festivities.

This year for Serious Eats, I put together an 8-phase (for the 8 days of Hanukkah) menu for the holidays, starting with smoked salmon tartare for an appetizer, and ending with the last palate cleanser of Manischewitz granita. Mr. English was in town, and my mom, and M. Francais, and my friends. It was the first time since I was a child that I celebrated Hanukkah, and my first ever time celebrating Christmas. I’m sold!

And at the end of the night, I bought some of the gourmet M & Ms and challenged everyone to a game of dreidel, which, again, I bought, instead of making it out of clay. And dreidel we did play. We sat in a circle on the floor, with our little dog weaving in and out between the dancing top and the chocolates. May the best dreideler win!

Haha, it was me! Thanks mostly to the Manishewitz granita. You have to feel like a spinning top, if you want to win with the spinning top.

For Dinner:

And for Breakfast:

Challah Pain Perdu with Vanilla Creme Anglaise


Check out the following posts for the recipes!

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Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel (Part II)

RECIPE: Fromage Blanc and Blueberry Crepe Blintzes

Blueberry Crèpe BlintzesGet the whole story at Serious Eats.

Fromage Blanc and Blueberry Crepe Blintzes

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup fromage blanc

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 10 bought Breton crepes

  • 12 ounces thawed frozen blueberries

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons flour

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1 teaspoon of butter, for sautéing the blintzes


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta cheese, fromage blanc, lemon zest, sugar, and egg with a hand mixer for 30 seconds, until it is combined and slightly lightened. If you cannot find fromage blanc, substitute cream cheese.

When you buy Breton crêpes, they are very thin, large rounds, folded in half. Keep them folded, and place the rounded edge at facing up on the counter. Then, trim about 3/4 inch from the left and right sides, so you have blunt edges, instead of the points of the fold. You can skip this step; it is simply aesthetics.

For each crêpe, spoon about 1/4 cup of the cheese filling just to the right of center, in a vertical stripe that does not quite reach the north and south edges of the crêpe. Then fold the top and bottom of the crêpe so that it just tucks over the cheese filling, and then fold the right side over the filling, and roll toward the left, so you get a rectangular “blintz” pocket. Continue for all 10 crêpes.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, and sauté the blintzes 2 minutes per side, just to crisp them. Transfer the blintzes to a baking sheet, and bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine the blueberries, lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons flour in a saucepan over medium high heat. Simmer for the 8 minutes that the blintzes are in the oven.

The blintzes should be golden, and the egg in the cheese filling will have set slightly. Plate the blintzes, serving the blueberry sauce alongside.

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Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Eat, Recipes, Sweets

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel (Part III)

RECIPE: Celeriac and Potato Pancake with Apple Crème Fraîche
Celeriac Potato Pancake

Celeriac Potato Pancake

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Celeriac and Potato Pancake with Apple Crème Fraîche

Ingredients for the Celeriac Potato Pancakes

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

  • 1 celery root (celeriac), trimmed and peeled, and then quartered

  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, and halved longwise

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

  • 1 egg

  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Apple Crème Fraîche

  • 1 cup crème fraîche

  • 1 gala apple, peeled and grated and chopped

  • Juice of 1/4 lemon

  • 12 chives, snipped, plus more for garnish

  • Salt and pepper


Begin the celeriac potato pancake by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion, and season with salt and pepper. After 2 minutes, add the minced garlic. Sauté another 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and soft, but not golden.

Meanwhile, feed the celeriac and potatoes through the grating attachment of a food processor. Transfer the grated vegetables to a kitchen towel, and ring out as much moisture as possible. Transfer the dry grated potato and celeriac to a bowl, and season with salt, pepper, and parsley, and add the onion and garlic mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine, and distribute the flavorings. Add the egg, and mix again just to combine.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan in which you sautéed the onions and garlic. Press half the potato celeriac mixture into the bottom of the pan, spreading it out all over the bottom. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Then, press a plate over the top of the pancake, and flip the pan so that the pancake then sits on the plate, then slide the pancake raw-side-down into the sauté pan and cook another 15 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the potato-celeriac mixture to make the second pancake.

To make the apple crème fraîche, peel a gala apple, and grate with a box grater on all four sides until you hit the core of the fruit. Discard the core, dress the grated apple immediately with the juice of ¼ lemon, and chop the apple even finer. Combine with the crème fraîche, and season with salt, pepper, and the freshly snipped chives.

Cut the large potato-celeriac pancakes into wedges, and serve with the apple crème fraîche alongside.

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Categories: Eat, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian