What Olympic Skier Devin Logan Eats in a Day

Courtesy of USSA/The North Face

At only 24 years old, Devin Logan is a dual threat at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The Vermont native will compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe skiing for Team USA, hoping to add to her medal collection (Logan won a silver medal in the inaugural freeski slopestyle event in Sochi in 2014). And while the flips, twists, and turns take a immense amounts of training, they also take immense amounts of energy. Even so, Logan still has enough energy to whip up creative meals to fuel herself, even when she only has access to a hotel kitchen. Here, the North Face–sponsored athlete shares what she eats on a typical training day.

Between 7 and 8 A.M.: A big breakfast, usually eggs

Courtesy of Devin Logan

I’m big on breakfast. When I wake up the morning, I make something hearty that I know will get me through a day of skiing. My go-to is usually eggs or an egg sandwich (I like eggs because they’re rich in protein). I add cheese and whatever greens I have, usually kale or spinach. What I love about breakfast is that it’s easy to make no matter where I’m eating or where I’m staying: Every restaurant or cafeteria has eggs on offer, and they’re easy to whip up in a bare-bones hotel kitchen.

3:30 P.M.: A super late lunch of dinner leftovers (or peanut butter and jelly)

Courtesy of Devin Logan

My training varies from day to day. Some days, I ski from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, then stop home for food. I’ll often make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a plate of leftovers from dinner the night before (like mac and cheese and ribs, shown above)! Afterward I’ll either head to the gym around 4 P.M. for a quick bodyweight workout or some time on the stationary bike, or I’ll just stay home and watch Netflix. I’m a firm believer in listening to what your body is telling you, and I mostly pay attention.

On the days when I don’t ski, I’ll spend the morning and early afternoon in the gym, then fuel up around 3:30 p.m. with a smoothie or some yogurt, granola, and fruit.

7:30 P.M. A dinner worthy of Top Chef or Chopped

Courtesy of Devin Logan

Since breakfast and dinner are my two biggest and most consistent meals, I try to make them both count. I really like to mix it up when it comes to dinner options. I’ll open my refrigerator, check out what I have, and then pretend I’m on a competitive cooking show. I don’t like to waste food and I enjoy getting creative. The other day, I had some bread that was going stale, so I toasted and cut the loaves in half and made some bruschetta for my roomies and myself. Then, I grilled a big slab of pork to go with it. Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot on my Traeger grill, which burns wood (not gas) for heat and makes everything taste incredible. It’s really kicked things up a notch and inspired me to try new things. (I recently grilled up Cornish game hen with roasted cauliflower, zucchini, and onions!)

For the most part, my diet is pretty healthy—lots of protein, healthy carbs, and vegetables—but it definitely includes some not-so-healthy foods on occasion. Chicken wings are one of my all-time favorites. I am a sucker for chicken wings. And then, of course I love chocolate and doughnuts. Sometimes when you crave these things, you gotta give in. Life is short!

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Chloe Kim’s Food Tweets While Winning Olympic Gold Are So Relatable It Hurts

Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim may have just won the gold medal in the halfpipe competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but on social media, she’s just like any other 17-year-old. While completely dominating in her events for Team USA, Chloe, like so many of us non-Olympians, was thinking about food.

On Monday, Chloe tweeted about craving ice cream. Not only was she at the Olympics, she was literally in the middle of the women’s halfpipe qualifications. “Could be down for some ice cream rn,” she wrote. The responses flooded in right away, with one fan asking, “Aren’t you competing right now?” Her response? A simple “yes…” Now, the Olympian is back at it again, this time tweeting about a breakfast sandwich.

Again, she took to Twitter mid-competition: “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry.” Nonetheless, after the tweet, Chloe went on to become the youngest-ever gold medalist in the halfpipe event.

According to an ESPN reporter, when asked why she was tweeting during the competition, Chloe said, as any teenager would,”Like, what else are you supposed to do?”

Besides ice cream and breakfast sandwiches, Chloe tweeted about eating two churros over the weekend, which not only satisfied her sweet tooth but apparently also helped calm her nerves. Clearly, she has a winning strategy. In 2016, Chloe became the first person under the age of 16 to win three gold medals at an X Games and the first woman to land back-to-back 1080 spins in a snowboarding competition. Not to mention, she was the second person ever to receive a perfect, 100-point score. Seriously impressive sports credentials aside, Chloe’s Twitter game is totally on point.

Related: Adam Rippon Is the Winter Olympics 2018 Hero We Need

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6 Genius Cooking Tricks From a Vegan Soul Food Chef

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Sidney Bensimon

Before I became a vegan food blogger and cookbook author, I was growing up in Georgia, eating a diet light on fruits and vegetables and heavy on Chick-fil-A. I went vegan as an adult for ethical reasons, and I love experimenting with recipes that re-create the soul food flavors of my childhood without animal products. I share many of these recipes on my food blog and also recently published a cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul.

One of the most popular misconceptions I’ve noticed is that many people think that soul food and veganism are pretty incompatible. I understand that, but I have to disagree. Soul food cooking is all about optimizing flavor and texture. What we love and crave are the spices, the sauces, and the preparation style. Soul food is about seasonings (smoked paprika, Old Bay, celery, hot sauce) and preparations (smoking, frying, grilling, baking). You don’t need meat and cheese for amazing soul food, and you don’t even need mock meat and fake cheese—you can get outstanding results by applying classic soul food seasonings and cooking methods to vegan ingredients like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and mushrooms.

Below are my best tips I’ve learned throughout the years for flavorful, soul-filled vegan cooking.

1. Spice things up with Creole seasoning, celery seed, Old Bay, cayenne, and more.

Sidney Bensimon

Down South, we don’t skimp on flavor. Luckily, spices are vegan, so it’s easy to achieve that Southern flavor profile without meat. Stock your spice cabinet with essentials like Creole or Cajun seasoning, celery seed, smoked paprika, Old Bay, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, hot sauce, and onion powder. Two of my favorite tasty soul food recipes are New Orleans–Style Red Beans & Rice, spiced with smoked paprika, bay leaves, and Cajun seasoning; and Low Country Grits (pictured above), flavored with Creole seasoning and Old Bay.

2. Fire up the grill for charred flavor.

Sweet Potato Soul

Grilling is essential to Southern cooking. We love firing up the grill from spring to fall, and even sometimes in the winter. A hot grill gives vegetables and plant-based foods a delicious charred flavor and richness that you can’t get from baking or roasting. Try grilling my Sweet Potato Burgers or Beet Black Bean Burgers (pictured above).

3. Embrace liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and a smoker to replicate the savory, umami-rich flavor of smoked pork.

Sidney Bensimon

Think you can’t have satisfying smoky food without pork? Think again! A raw slab of pig flesh doesn’t have much charm on its own—it’s the hours spent in a smoker that make it delicious. The same smoking process works on plants and makes them just as succulent and delicious as meat. Try smoking eggplant, carrots, mushrooms, or tofu in your smoker. If you don’t have a smoker, you can achieve that amazing smoky flavor by using liquid smoke or smoked paprika! Try my Crispy Eggplant Bacon (pictured above) and see for yourself.

4. When you fry, dredge food in flax, cornstarch, and nondairy milk.

Sweet Potato Soul

Fried food is an important part of soul food culture: think fried chicken, hush puppies, and fried green tomatoes. Replacing the egg and dairy in a dredge (that’s the coating for fried food) is easy when you use ground flaxseed and cornstarch in place of the egg, and nondairy milk instead of regular. Replacing the meat is easy too! My favorite vegan swaps are cauliflower or oyster mushrooms for fried chicken. Make sure to give my Vegan “Chicken” and Waffles (pictured above) a try.

5. Fill up on beans.

Sweet Potato Soul

Everyday soul food isn’t complete without beans. Kidney beans, butter beans (aka lima beans), and black-eyed peas are staples in most Southern diets. Beans are full of fiber and protein, and they add texture and flavor to any dish. Plus, they’re versatile and inexpensive. Hoppin’ John (pictured above) is a classic Southern black-eyed pea and rice dish that will leave you full, satisfied, and feeling truly nourished. I recommend buying dry or canned beans in bulk and cooking with them frequently.

6. Sweet potatoes, always!

Sidney Bensimon

Sweet potatoes have been my favorite food for longer than I can remember, and they play a huge role in soul food. I love their flavor and texture, but I also love their versatility in cooking. You can add mashed sweet potatoes to some baked goods in place of eggs, or to replace some of the oil. You can also use less added sugar when baking with sweet potatoes because they have so much sugar naturally. My Sweet Potato Pecan Cinnamon Rolls (pictured above) make the perfect breakfast treat.

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16 Healthy Soups You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

16 Healthy Soups You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

Soup is pretty much all I want to eat during the winter, but some recipes just take too long to make. If you want your beans to be cooked perfectly, your meat to be tender, or your veggies to be soft enough to blend, you have to really let things stew. Sometimes—OK, most of the time—I just don’t have the patience for that.

If I had an Instant Pot, this would be a different story. But since I don’t, and I’m sure many of you don’t either, I need another ways to satisfy my soupy needs. After a bit of Internet surfing, I’ve found that it’s totally possible to get a filling, comforting soup on the table without cooking the night away.

These 16 recipes need only 30 minutes of your time, some of them even less. The best part, aside from speed, is that several of them make a ton of servings. So if you didn’t have time to meal prep over the weekend, you make this any old night and have a bunch of leftovers to feed yourself with for the rest of the week. They also freeze well, so alternatively you could cook a different one every night and pack them up for later. Basically, these soups are exactly what’s going to help you make it to spring.

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7 Easy, Healthy Dinners You Should Eat This Week

7 Easy, Healthy Dinners You Should Eat This Week

Cooking is simple (once you’ve mastered a few basics), but planning meals isn’t always so easy. In fact, coming up with a meal plan that you know you’ll actually stick to and shopping for the ingredients to make it possible can be a real pain in the ass. I know this because I regularly find myself totally stumped on what to cook for dinner, and I’m someone who literally writes recipes for a living.

To take the guesswork out of your weeknights, we put together seven easy, healthy dinner recipes you should cook this week. Several ingredients appear in multiple recipes—potatoes, cabbage, zucchini, quinoa, dark leafy greens, and basil—which helps keep your grocery list short. There are three chicken recipes, one salmon recipe, and three meatless recipes, so you won’t get bored. And, since quinoa appears in five of the recipes, it’s worth it to make a huge batch and store it in the fridge to repurpose for recipes throughout the week. Anything you’re not eating within five days should go in the freezer and thawed as needed.

Each recipe serves one or two people, but you can easily halve or double them as it suits you. Plus, they all make for excellent lunch leftovers. If you cook one of the recipes, post a photo on Instagram and tag @selfmagazine and @xtinebyrne (that’s me!)—we love a good food pic as much as you do.

Oh, and if these recipes don’t do it for you? We have a whole archive of healthy, easy dinner recipes right here.

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Cobb Salad recipe

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The first avocado I ever had was at Scandia restaurant in Los Angeles and I hated it. The slippery little green cubes avoided my fork, until finally, I managed to spear one. Once I did, I swallowed it – reluctantly, then avoided the rest of them on my plate. I’m not sure how I came to eventually love avocados, but the city of Los Angeles is a little like that, too; You might not like it at first, but it definitely grows on you.

Half of my family is from there so I got to visit them, and the city, during Christmas vacations when I was a kid. Leaving the East Coast snow behind and stepping out of the plane into the 80º heat, and learning that people had actual swimming pools in their back yard, was a revelation.

Those days were pretty much the tail end of the era of fabulous L.A. eateries. At places like Chasen’s, elite regulars like the Reagan’s and Elizabeth Taylor dined on chili and “Hobo steaks.” Don the Beachcomber fueled America’s fascination with Polynesian fare. And although I never ate there (but every time we passed the sign, we giggled at its nickname), at the Cock’n Bull on Sunset Strip, the Moscow Mule was said to be invented.

My favorite place, though, was Scandia, are airy space on Sunset Boulevard where the impeccable staff would wheel the salad cart to your table and make your salad on the spot, before being heaped on a chilled plate. Most featured crunchy Iceberg lettuce (before the advent of mesclun and micro greens) but the best was chopped romaine, tossed together with a coddled egg and garlic croutons for their Caesar Salad, which I took to right away.

Eventually, the Hansen family sold Scandia in the late 1970s and the new owners couldn’t make a go of it. Like the Brown Derby, where the Cobb Salad was said to be invented, it shuttered and the building was turned into something else. To this day, though, I still associate Los Angeles with generous composed salads.

On a recent trip, I didn’t have much success finding a classic Cobb Salad. One was tossed together in the kitchen before it landed on our table, and another was served in a big, deep bowl, the ingredients correctly divided into piles, but not in the traditional rows.

For those who miss the heyday of Los Angeles dining, you’ll be as intrigued as I was by L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants by George Geary, a fond look back at the iconic restaurants of Los Angeles, some still standing but many, sadly, gone. Everything from Ma Maison and Trader Vic’s, to the less-upscale Hamburger Hamlet and Clifton’s Cafeteria, reminded me being fortunate enough to have gone to some of those places. (See? Growing older does have its rewards.)

Tastes may have changed, but aside from avocados, mine haven’t, and I was craving a classic Cobb Salad. Like a Caesar Salad, sorry, but there are no substitutions on this one. In order to be a Cobb Salad, it has to have bacon, tomatoes, avocados, blue cheese, and chicken. I gave proportions that I used which you can use as a guideline but it’s a salad, not a science project, so you can add a little more of this, and a little less of that.

For some reason, this kind of dressing was dubbed “French” dressing back then. The recipe makes more than you need, but the dressing keep for a week or so, in case you’re feeling nostalgic for another Cobb a few days later, like I was after I made this one.

 

4 main course-size servings
Inspired by L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants by George GearyThe idea of a Cobb Salad, like a Caesar Salad, is to have all the ingredients in the right proportions so one doesn’t stand out too much from the others once the salad ingredients are all mixed together. If your chicken breasts are large, you may just need one. And the chicken breasts are thick, you might want to slice them in half horizontally once cooked, i.e.; lay them flat on a cutting board and cut them in half, crosswise across the equator, so you’ve got two flat pieces of chicken from one breast.To cook the chicken, fill a saucepan with enough salted water so it’ll cover the cover the chicken. Bring it to a boil, add the chicken breast, cover, remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. You can peek inside by piercing it with a knife to check for doneness.To hard-cook eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil. Slide in the room temperature eggs and reduce the heat to a low boil. Cook for 9 minutes, remove the eggs from the water, and drop them into a bowl of ice water, to cool them down.To cook the bacon, put the strips between two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and cook for six minutes in the microwave, or as instructed by the package. You can also cook them in a skillet, if you’d like. If you don’t eat pork, swap out turkey bacon.Some like to use peeled, diced fresh tomatoes. I went with cherry tomatoes since the quality and flavor of them is usually better, except in full-on tomato season. To use fresh tomatoes, you can use a tomato peeler, or cut a small x in the bottom of 3 medium tomatoes. Drop them into a pot of boiling water for about 10 seconds (or until the skin loosens away from the flesh), then transfer them to a bowl of iced water to “shock” the tomatoes, which encourages the skins to slip off.
For the Cobb Salad

1 head romain or iceberg lettuce, or a mix of both, chopped

1/2 head watercress, chopped

1 1/2 cups (210g) quartered cherry tomatoes

2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (see headnote)

6 strips bacon, crumbled

3 hard-cooked eggs, diced

1 large ripe avocado, diced

4 ounces (115g) crumbled Roquefort or blue cheese

2 tablespoons minced chives

freshly ground black pepper

For the French dressing

1/3 cup (80ml) red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small clove of garlic, cut into pieces

1/2 cup (125ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup (125ml) canola oil (or another neutral-tasting oil)

For the salad

1. Spread the chopped lettuce and watercress in the bottom of a wooden salad bowl or a large platter.

2. Arrange the tomatoes, chicken, bacon, eggs, avocado, blue cheese, in rows across the top of the lettuce. Sprinkle chives over the top and add a few good turns of black pepper.

For the dressing

1. In the bowl of a food processor, or blender, combine the vinegar, water, Worchestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, pepper, salt and garlic. Process or blend the ingredients.

2. With the food processor or blender running, add the olive and canola oils in a slow, steady stream, so they make an emulsion.

3. Toss the salad with approximately 3/4 to 1 cup (180 – 250ml) of the dressing. Leftover dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Related Links

How to Make French Vinaigrette

Take My Mother Please – Los Angeles Tours: If you want to see where all the legendary restaurants were (or anything else in LA, my friend Anne will take you around town.

Fresh Corn, Tomato, Avocado and Basil Salad 

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Green Pea and Radish Tartines

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Once upon a time, there was something called I Hate Peas – French fries with ridges that you baked in the oven, aimed at kids who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. They supposedly had all the nutrients of peas without whatever it is about peas that apparently some kids don’t like. They didn’t last long, and I (or my mom) was fortunate because I always loved vegetables, including peas.

More recently, a few well-meaning cookbooks gave parents advice on how to sneak vegetables into other foods, like butternut squash in macaroni and cheese, which, to quote Raymond Sokolov, means that “many kids would never know the joy of crusty, traditional mac and cheese.”

In addition to being very familiar with the joy of crusty macaroni and cheese, the pleasure of fresh peas us something that I never want to miss either. They’re sweet, crunchy, and bright-tasting, and during their fleeting season, it’s nice to find a way to highlight them, like in these green pea and radish tartines.

I love peas – always have, always will. And I’m not alone: When I was scooping up shelling peas at the market, I chatted with another guy doing the same, and we talked about how much work they were to prepare. But fresh peas are definitely worth it, we agreed, before we each of us walked away with a big bag of them.

These tartines put fresh peas front and center. There’s expression, or theory, that says, “The easiest solution is the best.” Which goes along with something I’ve learned from French cuisine: You don’t need to do, or add, a whole bunch of stuff to food – just let good ingredients shine. Both seem to apply here; shuck some peas, don’t do too much to them, and let them speak for themselves.

And because I’m so open-minded, other things I’ve learned are that the word tartine, comes from the French word, tartiner, to spread. I’ve also learned the joys and versatility of fresh goat cheese, that I should never be without French breakfast radishes in my kitchen, fresh herbs are better when used abundantly, and that I should always have a loaf of good bread on hand, for toast and impromptu tartines.

This is one of the messiest blog posts I’ve ever done. A while back someone asked me to “Stop using tweezers to place things on plates.” I was a professional cook for a few decades, and now a home cook, but I’ve never used tweezers to place things anywhere. (My tweezers stay in the bathroom, and I’ll spare you a description of what I use them for in there.)

The upside to my tweezerless post is that you have permission to make a mess yourself when you make, and eat, these. Peas will roll, herbs will tumble, oil will drip, toast will char. So just a heads-up that theses aren’t your mother’s tartines, if you mom tried to disguise vegetables, that is. They’re for pea-lovers, like us.

Green Pea and Radish Tartines

Print Recipe

You can swap out labneh for the goat cheese. I’d imagine fresh ricotta would work. Because ricotta can be a bit grainy, sometimes it’s helpful to beat in a spoonful of cream.If peas aren’t in season, fava or edamame beans would fill the bill, or top the tartines, nicely. (To go in a completely other direction, you could top the tartines with sliced tomatoes in place of the peas and radishes, and swap out mayonnaise or aioli for the goat cheese.)Feel free to use any fresh herbs that you like; chives, mint, basil, oregano, tarragon, chervil or thyme, and I think a mix is best. I went heavy on the basil and mint. Be sure to reserve extra herbs and shallots for sprinkling on top.

6 ounces (170g) fresh goat cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, see headnote

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for the peas and toast

kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup (90g) fresh peas

2 slices country-style or levain bread

1 clove garlic, peeled

3 to 4 radishes, thinly sliced

additional chopped herbs, shallots and olive oil, for finishing the tartines

1. In a small bowl, mash together the goat cheese, herbs, shallots, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Prepare a small bowl of ice water and set aside. Bring a small pot of salted water to a low boil. Drop the peas in the water and cook them for about 45 seconds. (Depending on how big they are, or how fresh, they may take more of less time. I like mine al dente.) Drain the peas and immediately put them in the water to cool. Once cool, drain them again, and toss them in a small bowl with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

3. Toast the slices of bread by brushing one side of them lightly with olive oil. Grill the bread, oil side down, on an outdoor grill or grill pan until golden brown. Turn the bread and grill until the other side is slightly crisp. Remove the breads from the grill and while they’re still warm, but cool enough to handle, rub the oil-brushed sides of the breads vigorously with the raw garlic.

(If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, you can brown the slices of bread on a baking sheet in the oven, using the broiler or high-heat, about 400ºF/200ºC, watching them carefully if you use the broiler.)

4. Smear the garlic-rubbed side of each piece of bread with the goat cheese mixture. Divide the peas over the two slices of bread and press them in lightly. Garnish with sliced radishes and top with additional fresh herbs, shallots, salt and pepper, and a few drips of olive oil here and there.

Storage: The herbed goat cheese mixture can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before using.

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Vietnamese Caramel Chicken

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The first time I had chicken cooked caramel sauce was at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. “Caramel? With chicken?” I thought. But once I tasted it, I didn’t need to wonder why it became their signature dish.

Back then, The Slanted Door was a small restaurant in the Mission, on a street that was notable for Latin markets, edgy bars, and burritos. Things have changed and last time I went with Romain, I took him into a hipster shop that had “pine water,” that was something like $80 a bottle. When the bearded clerk wearing a soy-based dyed muslin apron with leather straps and vintage buckles kindly asked how we were finding everything, Romain replied in broken English, “Very expensive.”

The Slanted Door was sort of a breakthrough place in San Francisco, and it thrived in that neighborhood, until the chef wanted to expand, which raised the ire of some of the neighbors. So he moved to the Ferry Plaza building, to spiffier digs, adjacent to the splendid outdoor market. I ate there about a year ago and the famous Clay Pot Caramel Chicken is still on the menu, and still a favorite.

At The Slanted Door, the dish is cooked in a clay pot. I have a gazillion pots and pans, seemingly for everything, except a clay pot. And I’m not getting one, because I have nowhere to put it. (I’m still trying to find a place for the slow cooker that everyone said that I just had to have…which is still unopened.)

But it doesn’t matter; the chicken in caramel sauce can be made in any vessel, like a large skillet or saucepan, or even a Dutch (or French) oven-type pot. Heck, if you’ve got one (and have opened in the box), you could probably make it in a slow cooker.

I love this recipe for a number of reasons. One is that’s it’s very easy and quick to make; you can have dinner on the table in about half an hour. But also, you don’t need to hunt down a laundry list of ingredients to get authentic Vietnamese flavors. The only thing you’ll need to do is track down palm sugar.

Supermarkets in America often carry coconut sugar, which is close, but not quite the same thing. I haven’t tried it, so can’t say if it’ll work, so I recommend stocking up on palm sugar. It’s inexpensive and lasts forever. I discovered palm sugar on a trip to Thailand, fell in love with it, and brought back enough to last me through the following decade.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe but the best tip ever was from Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, who told me, “Melt the palm sugar in a microwave oven!” which works very well; in thirty seconds, you’ve got melted palm sugar. Bingo! That worked great and I made it with the aid of le micro-onde the next time I tried it, and it worked like a charm.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken

Print Recipe

Adapted from The Slanted Door by Charles Phan.I tinkered with the recipe, mostly with the portion size. Although I think they have their place, chicken thighs, rather than boneless chicken breasts, are best to use here. I’ve tried it with all breast meat and the dish is less-appealing made with white meat. For those who insist, a good compromise would be a mix of dark and white meat.Palm sugar is available in Asian markets and online. It usually comes in disks, although it’s sometimes sold in tubs, which is harder to portion out. Indian markets carry jaggery, a cousin to palm sugar (sometimes made from sugar cane, and is a bit more stubborn to melt), could be used, although I recommend tracking down palm sugar.
For the caramel

8 ounces (235g) light brown palm sugar, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup (160ml) fish sauce

2 Thai chiles, sliced lengthwise

For the chicken

1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds (700g) boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 inch (5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

3 medium shallots (about 2 ounces, total, 60g) shallots, peeled and sliced into rings

fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. To make the caramel, melt the palm sugar over low heat in a medium-to-large saucepan or skillet, stirring frequently (and breaking it up) to encourage it to melt. It’ll take about 10 minutes to liquefy completely. Similarly, you can place the palm sugar in a large glass heatproof measuring cup or bowl and melt the palm sugar in a microwave oven, which will take about 20 to 30 seconds.

2. When the sugar is melted and bubbling, remove from heat and gradually add the fish sauce into the liquefied palm sugar, while stirring. (If you have a hood fan, you may wish to turn it on before adding the fish sauce.) It may also bubble up a bit, so be careful. Add the chiles and set aside.

3. To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a medium-to-large sauté or wide braising pan, or regular-sized Dutch oven. Add the ginger and shallots and cook until they start to wilt, about 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the chicken and the caramel, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until the sauce is just simmering. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. (The original recipe said to cook the chicken for 20 minutes, but mine was done sooner.)

Serving: Serve the chicken with rice.

Storage: The chicken is best eaten right after it’s made. The sauce can be made up to one month ahead, and refrigerated. Rewarm until liquified before using.

Related Posts and Links

Charles Phan makes Clay Pot Chicken with Caramel Sauce (Epicurious, Video)

Palm sugar and Coconut sugar (The Spruce)

Palm Sugar (Amazon)

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles

 

This easy stovetop Caramel Chicken recipe is a perfect dinner, quick to make and delicious to eat! A signature dish from The Slanted Door in San Francisco.

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Provencal Chicken with Pastis recipe

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In France, you’re either a juilettiste or aoûtien, meaning you take your annual summer vacation in July or August, although many get more than four weeks off (and some get less), so there’s room for a few crossovers as well. I don’t know what the word for someone who takes their summer vacation during both months is…chanceux? (lucky?) – or if there is a word for those of us who go on break in September is, but that’s where I fall.

However, it’s impossible if you live in France not to get swept up in the “I gotta get out of town” feeling, as places shutter up and Parisians race toward train stations and airports, with the sounds of luggage being wheeled over the uneven sidewalks, or families packing up their kids, and cars, and hitting the autoroute.

While others think the French vacation is extremely generous, it’s a right the French fought for in 1936. Before that, most working-class people had never had time off, although now it’s something that’s taken for granted in France. So if you want the same thing, follow their example and hit the streets where you live.

Our trip was, for me, a working vacation, because we Americans are wired differently. (Although I’m investigating how to change mine.) In the meantime, I found myself wanting to share a story and pictures of a favorite antique shop, so pulled out my laptop, and got carried away, sharing lots of photos, I think around fifty, and a story. Then we went to a local outdoor market that I just couldn’t not share with you either.

Regardless, after patting myself on the back, I started to fade into the slower way of life in the French countryside, right about the time my internet connection began to fade, which happens that farther you get from major cities in France. That’s why you’ll see Parisians out in the countryside, standing in the middle of town squares or open fields, pulling on cigarettes, desperate for a network connection. At least that was us, minus the cigarettes.

On another note, I was on a fairly secluded beach that was sublime – not crowded…and not looking for an internet connection, but admiring the sparkling clear skies and swimming in the gentle waves that lapped the water forward, as the dramatic tide on Brittany came in. But as the water moved toward where I laid my towel to catch some sun, so did the smokers, who moved their blankets and towels closer and closer to me, until I was completely surrounded
: -/

As we moved farther from cities, my internet connection became even more spotty – much to the chagrin of people trying to reach me, who didn’t understand that in France, in August, closed for business means closed for business. But I was glad I brought along my camera, for un petit travail, when my friend Hélène said she was going to make poulet au pastis for dinner.

Hélène and her husband live out in the country and grow most of their own vegetables. It’s easy to forget what a tomato right off the vine taste like, or how much better green beans that were just picked a few minutes ago are, compared to their counterparts that have been shipped from elsewhere.

Right before hitting the kitchen, Hélène heads out to the garden to gather vegetables for whatever she’s going to make for that meal. (She also said she didn’t like thinking too far in advance what she was going to make for a meal because it was too stressful, which I think is good advice.) So I stopped pursuing an internet connection and joined her, searching for beans, tomatoes, herbs, and whatever else was ready to be picked, and cooked.

When Romain first met Hélène and her husband, he stayed with them and dined at their table for a few weeks. Midway through his stay, he called me to tell me how great he felt eating so much healthy food, especially all the vegetables. (And I like to think we eat pretty healthy at home.) But our city vegetables are no match for those that are just-picked.

I love vegetables, but after a few days, when we went to the market, I spotted the one last poulet fermier on display and asked if she felt like cooking it.

In addition to extended vacations, great outdoor markets, and gorgeous countrysides in France, butchers will cut up poultry for you. It’s part of the service, and while I don’t mind cutting up my own, they do it so much better.

Once it’s done, they wrap all the pieces up in crisp paper, with the name of their butcher shop on it, then hand the chicken over. All you have to do is take it home and cook it.

French farm chickens are less-plump than their supermarket counterparts, although you can get a poulet fermier at most French supermarkets. They tend to taste more “meaty,” and give off some natural gelatin, which thickens sauces nicely. To others, the chickens may look boney and sparse (I’ve seen American visitors mock the gangly French dindes when they’re invited to a Thanksgiving dinner in Paris, but the free-range turkeys are much, much tastier than their plumped-up counterparts), and I’m happy to choose the perhaps less-photogenic farm chickens, when I can.

French cooks don’t have cans of chicken stock at their disposal, so either they use water, or resort to “the cube,” which I’m not a fan of. I usually either make my own, or use water. (Although this stuff will do in a pinch, which I’ve been known to pack in my suitcase on trips back from the States.)

Once home, Hélène got to work on the tomatoes and potatoes, with Romain pitching in to help.

I’ve cooked for, and with, French people who like to peel tomatoes, believing the skins to be undigestible. I’ve had guests carefully, and discreetly, dissect tomato slices in salads I’ve made, peeling off and moving aside the offending skins. Helene doesn’t do that, nor does she trim the pointy ends of green beans, which French people always clip off. As a gardener, she wants to use as much of the plants as possible. (However, she did peel the organic potatoes, which we picked up at the market. Go figure.)

When I told her that I wanted to share the recipe, and we’d need to measure ingredients, she froze. She wasn’t used to doing that, but was a good sport and out came the balance (scale), and into the pot went the tomatoes, potatoes, and other ingredients, after I weighed everything and converted them pounds and cups.

When Hélène suggested adding just a suggestion of garlic, I said it was fine to ramp it up for les américains, who like a lot of ail, and she added a few extra cloves to the pot.

While we’re on the subject of cultural differences (or at least I am…), when we were at the market, we talked about portion size. When I arrived in France and made my first dinner for guests, I figured the usual one half-chicken per person, as we ate in the States. I was surprised when I had so much food leftover after buying two chickens to serve at a dinner for four.

This Provençal Chicken with Pastis turned into a great one-pot meal. One last generalization is that the French generally don’t overdo seasonings, especially when it comes to spices: Herbs are used more frequently than spices. So I gave some ideas in the headnote to the recipe if you want to tweak the recipe a bit, with the addition of olives or fennel seeds, or even replace some of the parsley with tarragon.

Provencal Chicken with Pastis

Print Recipe

Helene doesn’t cook fancy or time-consuming food, and added potatoes to her stew, along with water to help them cook. When I make it at home, I’m may serve it with wide noodles, so will add less water, enough just to cover the chicken – perhaps 2 cups (500ml). The French tend to like lots of sauce, especially if there is good bread handy, so feel free to add 1 quart (1l) of water if you’re using the potatoes.When I got home (and had an internet connection), I did notice some French recipes for Poulet au pastis call for the addition of things like star anise, fennel (fresh or fennel seeds), black olives, saffron, thyme, rosemary, or summer savory. The recipe is very flexible so you can use this recipe as a base, and add any other seasonings in step #4. Personally, I’m going to try swapping out fresh tarragon for some of the parsley and add fennel seeds next time I make it.If you don’t have pastis, another anise-flavor liqueur, such as ouzo, arak, absinthe, or anisette, will do. You may need to adjust the quantities, depending on the strength of the liqueur or spirit that you substitute.

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces; two legs, two thighs, and two breasts, cut in half crosswise (rather than lengthwise), with wings attached

kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup (160ml) pastis

1 3/4 pounds (800g) fresh tomatoes, (about 3 large or 4 medium)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds (1kg) small potatoes, peeled or unpeeled

3/4 cup (45g) coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 teaspoon raw sugar (optional)

1. Rub chicken all over the salt and pepper. If possible, let sit overnight in the refrigerator, although it can be prepared right away.

2. In a Dutch oven or similar vessel, add enough olive oil so it covers the bottom of the pan. Over medium-high heat, when the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides, turning them only when one side is brown. (Constant turning won’t encourage browning as much as letting them stay in one place until browned.) If your pot isn’t large enough, fry them in two batches and remove the first chicken pieces to a bowl while you brown the second. You may need to add additional olive oil to the pot while browning or in between batches.

3. Once the chicken is browned, wipe excess oil from the pot. Deglaze pan with about a third of the pastis, scraping the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged spatula to incorporate any dark bits.

4. Add half of the tomatoes to the pot, then the chicken, and any juices that may have collected in the bowl, the garlic, then the rest of the tomatoes. Pour in the rest of the pastis, and bring to a boil. Add 1 quart (1l) water. (See headnote about how much water to add if not using potatoes.)

5. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, slice the potatoes into pieces 1/3-inch (1cm) thick.

6. Stir everything in the pot gently to mix everything together, then add the potatoes, half the parsley, and the sugar, sprinkling a bit of salt over the potatoes.

7. Continue to cook, uncovered, basting the potatoes with the liquid in the pot while everything is cooking, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minute, depending on the variety of potatoes and the chicken.

8. Taste the sauce, and add sugar (if desired) and more salt if it needs it. If you’d like, you could give the sauce a small squeeze of lemon, to add a nice note of acidity to the sauce.

Serving: Serve the chicken warm with potatoes and some of the sauce. If you decide not to cook potatoes with the chicken, you can serve this with pasta, rice, or a favorite grain.

Related Posts and Recipes

Chicken in Red Wine Sauce

Wine Harvester Chicken

Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

The Grand Vacations: July and August in France (The Curious Rambler)

Take a Break: France’s Love Affair with Vacations (France24, video)

54 Non-Smoking Beaches in France (Le Monde du Tabac)

 

A one-pot French chicken dish that captures the flavors of Provence, with fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and a generous amount of fresh herbs!

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Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

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It’s been a goofy month. I don’t know if the word “goofy” exists or translates into French, but c’est comme ça, as they say, or “that’s how it is.” It seems like everything got discombobulated; even my vacation plans were thwarted by a server outage and a nasty jellyfish sting, whose only upside was that it was on my thigh – near, but not on, my génitaux. (I’ll spare you the details, but you can look that one up if you want.)

My iPhone also mysteriously died one night, which I discovered the next morning and I couldn’t get an appointment at the Apple store for a week. When I went in to the store in Paris, they told me the wait to speak to someone was three hours. (!) And when I went to put up a new recipe on the blog, I realized that I didn’t write down the baking time. Zut.

Fortunately I’m not a total nitwit, and had this recipe waiting in the wings. I had made it because I wanted to feature balsamic vinegar, which I have to admit, isn’t one of my favorite ingredients to add to a salad. The sweetness, to my taste, doesn’t enhance a salad, although it’s not bad with bitter greens like radicchio. Still, I’m more of a red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar kinda guy and prefer a bit of sharpness in my salads. But I found a bottle of balsamic vinegar lingering in the back of my cabinet and wanted to use it up.

In addition to doing my best not to let anything go to waste around here, another thing I’m fanatical about is collecting condiments. I think half of my refrigerator is filled with them, everything from a few types of mustard, harissa (North African hot sauce), chipotle sauce, Sambal Oelek (which I’m not sure how it got in there since I don’t remember ever using it), Char Siu sauce, jars of tahini that I bought in Lebanon, and a miscellaneous things that I forgot to label and have no idea what’s in them, and will probably remain in there until the day I move, and either use ’em…or toss ’em.

I’m also really into honey and have a cabinet full of jars, ranging from bitter chestnut honey to a lovely Meyer lemon honey given to me by my pal Casey, at Bushwick Kitchen. Needless to say, I also have a sterling collection of zip-top bags for transporting everything in.

The oven-roasted pork loin is a terrific way to use balsamic vinegar, which reduces to a lovely syrup, which you bathe the pork in while it’s cooking. It’s also got plenty of fresh ginger to give it some zing, along with a soupçon of honey, soy sauce, and hot sauce, to balance out the flavors.

So I’ve got a few things to do before the next blog post shows up, including trying to figure out if my aging eyes will appreciate one of those oversized iPhone Plus phones, and if so, will I need to start toting around a man purse to carry it around in? And helping my pharmacist decipher my doctor’s handwriting so he can fill my prescriptions for the antidote to that oddly shaped red swipe across my thigh, courtesy of a Mediterranean meduse. While I wait, here’s a recipe for richly glazed roast pork, that anyone should be able to understand.

Balsamic Glazed Roast Pork

Print Recipe

I used a boneless pork loin roast, called a roti de porc in French. It’s a fairly lean cut, wider than a slender pork tenderloin (called filet mignon, in French). You can use this marinade for pork tenderloin, but you’ll need to reduce the baking time. The USDA recommends cooking pork until the temperature in the center is 145ºF (62ºC), which you can determine with an instant-read thermometer. Be sure to let the pork loin rest before slicing into it.

2/3 cup (160ml) balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup (60ml) honey

3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil

3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce

2 inch (5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons hot sauce

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

2 to 2 1/2 pounds (1-1,25kg) boneless pork loin roast

1. In a zip-top freezer bag, or a bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, a few generous turns of black pepper, and fish sauce, if using. Add the pork. If using a freezer bag, press out excess air and seal. Refrigerate the pork loin for 24 hours, turning it a few times in the marinade during that time.

2. To roast the pork, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).

3. Place the pork roast in a shallow baking dish. Pour enough water (or leftover white wine, if you have any) into the bottom of the baking dish, so it’s about 1/4-inch (1cm) deep.

4. While the pork roasts, liberally baste the pork loin with the marinade every 10 to 15 minutes, and spooning liquid that’s pooling in the bottom of the baking dish over it as well. Be very generous with the marinade, as you go.Note: If the liquid on the bottom of the pan threatens to dry up, add more water (or wine) to the pan. (Do not add water to a dry baking dish if the dish is made of glass or ceramic, as it can crack.)

5. Roast the pork for 50 minutes to 1 hour. (You can check it using an instant-read thermometer, as indicated by the headnote, if you wish.) Remove the pork the oven, let rest 10 minutes, covered with foil, basting it with sauce a few times as it’s resting, before slicing.

This Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin has a spicy hot-sweet sauce, with the zing of fresh ginger!

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French quiche with greens, bacon and feta

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While visiting friends in the countryside toward the end of the summer (…is it over already?), I met a woman who grew the most lovely little lettuces, which she sold at the local market. Which was basically a table with several baskets of her stunning greens sitting on it. If you haven’t had eaten lettuce just a few minutes (or even hours) out of the ground, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I, myself, had forgotten about how good fresh lettuce and greens are, until I reached into the pile we bought and tasted the spiciest, most peppery arugula I’ve had in years. She also had mustard greens, which aren’t as celebrated in France as other types of lettuce, perhaps due to their forceful flavor. (Although Dijon mustard is wildly popular, so not sure why the greens aren’t.) But I filled an especially big bag with as many of the mustard greens as I thought I could use, and brought them back to our friend’s kitchen.

Greens that are popular in Paris are spinach and Swiss chard, which you can find at most markets, as well as – curiously – bok choy, which I find too neutral for my tastes, in spite of my love of Asian greens. (Ever since Romain tasted pea shoots in the U.S., he’s been harping on me to find them in Paris.)

Beets are popular in Paris and a majority of the time they’re sold already cooked. I’m told this dates back to when energy was rationed during wartime and farmers were given an extra allotment of gas so they could cook them. But the greens? They seem to have been forgotten…

With renewed interest in légumes oubliés (forgotten vegetables), however, raw beets seem to be making a comeback of sorts. But no one is dumpster diving at the markets, fishing out the beet greens that are hacked off before the round beets are handed over to customers in a bag…except for a friend of mine, who couldn’t stand to see the leaves go to waste, and I often run into her at the market, hauling a caddy jam-packed with beet greens home with her. Other than my frugal friend, I don’t see anyone else scrambling to take home beet greens with them. But when I find organic beets, I keep the leaves and sauté them up.

While I was deciding what to make with the overload of greens that I’d gotten, in my friend’s kitchen, Romain took charge of the dessert. He’d just discovered pâte sucrée and was on a tart-making bender, and I let him have his way, while I took over the savory side of things.

Since I was on vacation, I didn’t take pictures or write down what I did, much to the dismay of some commenters on Instagram. But when I got home, I rustled up some beet greens to use in place of the mustard greens and made it again. It was just as good; the sturdy beet greens didn’t have the tang of mustard, but were full-flavored and made a nice counterpoint to the salty, tangy feta and bits of bacon, along with a generous handful of herbs.

One piece of bakeware that you’ll find in every French kitchen are tart molds like these:

I had an uneasy relationship with them, until I learned how handy they are. You don’t have to worry about drips and spills, due to the high sides, and they’re easy to transport. They’re also really inexpensive; you can pick one up at houseware stands at most outdoor markets for a few euros, or at your local Paris pas cher store, the discount stores that are scattered around Paris, that sell everything from clothespins, to Duralex glasses and casseroles. (If you walk up the rue de Belleville, you’ll pass about a dozen of them.)

If you don’t have one, I’ve given some guidelines for using other types of molds in the headnote before the recipe. You can swap out fresh or aged goat cheese for the feta, and if you want to use another herb, such as fresh dill, basil, thyme, tarragon, or whatever strikes your fancy in place of the chives, go for it.

Quiche with greens, bacon and feta

Print Recipe

The tart mold that’s commonly used in France (shown in the post) is 27cm across, with sides that are 3cm high, approximately 10″ by 1 1/4.” You can get similar size quiche dishes online, or use a 10-inch (27cm) pie dish or pan, but like most French cooks, I wouldn’t fret. Anything close in size should work fine.The amount of custard I call for was just right for using a tart mold with lower sides, but if you have one with higher sides, like the French kind shown in the post, you can bump the ingredients up to 1 1/2 cups (375ml) of milk and 6 eggs.I’ve made this recipe with mustard as well as with beet greens. See notes at the end of the recipe for tips on using other types of greens, and other variations. Whatever type of greens that you use, be sure to wash them carefully, in several changes of water if necessary, to remove any grit. The mustard greens I used the first time had tender stems so I chopped and cooked them together, but if the stems of your greens are thick (such as if you are using beet greens or kale), you probably want to separate the leaves and stems, chop them separately, and add the chopped stems to the pan a few minutes before the leaves, as they’ll need to be cooked longer.
For the tart dough

1 1/4 cups (175g) flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3oz/85g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

5 tablespoons (75ml) ice water

For the tart filling

olive oil

1 cup (100g) diced bacon, preferably thick-cut

2 shallots, or one small onion, minced

kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch beet or mustard greens, chopped, about 8 ounces (230g)

1 1/4 cup (310ml) whole milk

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 cup (10g) minced fresh chives

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

generous pinch red pepper or paprika

4 ounces (100g) feta cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

1. To make the tart dough, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Or in a large bowl, if making it by hand, and use a pastry blender to cut in the butter.) Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the pieces of butter are the size of peas. Add the ice water and mix until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disk with your hands, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s a 13-inch (33cm) circle. Brush off excess flour and transfer the dough to a 10-inch (27cm) tart mold. Fit the dough in the tart mold, trim the overhang of the dough around edges of the rim, and chill the dough until ready to use.

3. To make the filling, heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add the bacon. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until it’s cooked through, but not crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.

4. Wipe the skillet of excess oil and add the chopped stems of the greens, if they were tough and you separated them from the leaves. (See headnote.) Season with salt and pepper and cook until the stems are tender, adding additional olive oil if necessary. Add the shallots and cook for another minute, then add the greens. Cook the greens, stirring frequently, until cooked through. If they are particularly sturdy greens, cover the pan and let them cook, covered, for a few minutes, until softened. Remove from heat

5. To make the custard, in a medium bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, mustard, salt, chives, basil, and a pinch of paprika or red pepper.

6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

7. Put the bacon pieces in the bottom of the unbaked tart shell. Add the cooked greens and crumble the feta in big chunks over the greens. Pour the custard over the greens and move them around a bit with a spoon so they’re evenly distributed. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Bake until the filling is just set, 20-25 minutes if using a shallow tart pan, 25 to 30 minutes if using a deeper tart mold. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes: I made this with mustard greens as well as turnip greens, which took longer to cook than the mustard greens. You can use either of those or another favorite green, such as kale or Swiss chard. Spinach is another possibility although since it’s very damp, you may need to wring it out well before using it in the tart.

If you don’t eat bacon, smoked salmon (or even sauteed mushrooms or peas, for a vegetarian version) can be substituted. I’ve also swapped out goat cheese for the feta, and fresh dill for the basil.

Some might ask about pre-baking the tart shell, before adding the filling. In my experience, I’ve not seen a French home cook do that. These kinds of tarts are meant to be everyday fare; often people buy the pre-made pastry at the grocery store, unroll it, and fill it for a relatively quick dinner. But if you want to prebake the crust, you can. Simply line the tart shell with foil, fill with beans or pie weights, and bake the crust until golden brown across the bottom.

 

 

A French quiche recipe with greens, bacon and feta, bursting with flavor!

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Breton Buckwheat Dumplings, a regional French specialty.

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Kig Ha Farz is a homely, but absolutely delicious, Breton specialty that even few French people know about. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever find it served in a restaurant, even in Brittany, which I learned on a recent trip to the region. I told friends that we were staying with that I wanted to prepare it for them, and we spent a few days trying to find a farz sack to make it in. While shopping at the outdoor markets, we asked vendors that sold housewares if they carried them, but not one of them had any idea what Kig ha farz was, let alone carry a sack for making it.

One was even suspicious that we were from one of those “gotcha” tv shows, called enquêtes, in France, where they do undercover investigations. I saw one where they brought a hidden camera to an outdoor market where vendors were selling eggs from battery chicken farms marked as “cage-free.” (All eggs in France are stamped 0-to-3, which’ll tell you how the chickens were raised.) The eggs were sitting in pretty baskets on beds of hay, but when the journalist busted them for selling battery-farmed chicken eggs as cage-free, the vendor started throwing the eggs at them. (And even other customers started yelling at them, which I didn’t quite get, because they were being sold incorrectly marketed eggs.)

We weren’t there to bust anyone, or to have eggs tossed at us. I just wanted to make kig ha farz.

The first time I had kig ha farz was back in 2007, a few years after I started the blog. Romain had told me about it, but couldn’t really describe it. Or if he did, I wasn’t really getting what it was. It wasn’t until a trip to Brittany where we rented a house that I got my first taste of it. The couple we were renting our guest house from asked us what we wanted as a welcome dinner, and we said “Kig ha farz.” They were surprised, and they told us we were the first people to ever ask for it. But later that evening, her husband came out bearing our dinner.

bretonwithkighafarz.jpg

It’s been nearly a decade since I wrote about it, and after my recent trip, I decided to update the post. (And in case you go to Brittany and are looking to have it, you’ll have better chances of finding it if you are visiting the Finistère part of the region.)

It’s said the tradition of simmering a dumpling-like mixture in simmering meat broth was done using the sleeve of an old men’s shirt. So if you have one lying around that you don’t mind ripping the sleeve off of, you might want to give it a try. Or you can use a big square of natural fabric that’s not too porous. As for me, I’m never letting my precious farz bag out of my sight again.

Kig ha farz is probably one of the most unusual things that’ll ever come out of your kitchen and it’s not winning any beauty contests, which is why I first wrote about it before the age of Pinterest and Instagram. But as long-time readers know, there are a number of recipes on this site that probably won’t make it to the top of the social media or search engine heap, but I found them interesting enough to share, like plum kernel ice cream or polenta gelato, made with a type of polenta that no one can get, and an oil that I think may have been in production for all of about six days in the south of France.

I’ve been accused of being someone that didn’t follow the herd, so apologies, but I think it’s fun to tackle a new cooking project, especially one as unusual as this one is, and it’s easy to make, no matter where you are.

Buckwheat flour is what gives kig ha farz its hearty, earthy flavor. A reader in the U.S. recently wrote that when she made buckwheat crêpes (called galettes, in France) hers were almost black. I’d made them for years in the States and didn’t have that problem, but another reader helpfully chimed in that some buckwheat flours are whole-grain and quite dark, unlike French buckwheat flour, which they said was partially refined.

I looked at pictures of American buckwheat flour online and didn’t notice them to be much darker than the French stuff, but the helpful reader suggested the closest replica of French buckwheat flour can be found in Japanese stores, the buckwheat flour they sell for making soba, which is sometimes mixed with wheat flour. I’m going to lug my precious farz sack along with me next time I go to the states, and give it a try. (See? I told you I wasn’t letting it out of my sight.) Some recipes do use a mix of wheat and buckwheat flour, so you could go that route as well, especially if you want something lighter.

Traditionally, kig ha farz is served with a pot-au-feu, a French boiled dinner composed of long-simmered meats and vegetables. Various versions abound but all versions I’ve seen (and there aren’t that many!) involve pork belly or bacon, sausages, and vegetables. A few have beef, so you could use any recipe that you have in your repertoire to make this. Just remember that the kig ha farz needs to be cooked two hours, so it should be a recipe that meets that criterion, and has enough liquid to poach the dumpling.

Speaking of tradition, kig ha farz is sometimes served by the slice, rather than crumbled. I’ve also seen recipes with quite a bit of sugar in the batter, up to 3/4 cup (150g). I share the Breton love of sweets, namely Kouign amann and Sablés Bretons, but I’ll save my sweet tooth for dessert.

And I prefer Kig ha farz crumbled into little bits, which makes it easy to see why it’s referred to as “Breton couscous.” If you are a traditionalist (and let’s face it, some of us can only take that term so far before we reach for what’s handy, or what’s available where we live), you could served it with lipig; a sauce made of melted butter, shallots, and bone marrow, from the os à moelle that you could cook with the meats and vegetables.

Mine was a speedy version, which I made for two. While I simmered the farz, I pan-fried the slab of bacon and a couple of pork chops, then added lightly simmered carrots and turnips that I prepared separately to the pan along with a few generous ladles of the cooking liquid and some stubby smoked sausages, then simmered everything together until it smelled like dinner was ready. Each plate got served with a ladle of the sauce, In lieu of the lipig, you could dab the kig ha farz with some salted butter, which I didn’t do this time, but don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t.

Adapted from The French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Loomis.Buckwheat flour is good for people avoiding wheat flour. If you don’t eat meat, this can be served with simmered root vegetables, like turnips, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, hard squash, and even some cabbage. If doing so, I would add some herbs or other flavorings to the water, or cook them in vegetable stock.I’ve linked to some recipes below for making pot-au-feu, the classic meat-based French boiled dinner that kig ha farz is traditionally served with. And I’ve linked to some places where you can get Japanese soba flour (mixed with wheat), as well, which you may want to track down. To approximate the same thing, you could use 80% whole-grain buckwheat flour mixed with 20% wheat flour.I’ve also linked to some places after the recipe where you can get farz sacks in France, and elsewhere. You could also place the mixture in the center of a clean, damp piece of cotton cloth about 2-feet square (60 cm). Gather the corners of the cloth and secure them tightly with kitchen string, leaving room for the mixture to expand by one-third.

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk

4 tablespoons (60g) melted butter, salted or unsalted

1 3/4 cups (250g) buckwheat flour (see headnote)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1. Mix together the eggs, milk, and butter in a large bowl.

2. Gradually add the flour, sugar and salt, stirring until smooth.

3. Scrape the mixture into a farz bag, a sack made of unbleached muslin specifically for this purpose. Tie it closed, leaving room for it to expand by about one-third.

4. Simmer the farz in simmering broth, turning it a few times while cooking, for about 2 hours.

5. Drain the sack in the colander very well for 15 minutes. Then take the sack and roll it on the countertop, pressing it firmly back-and-forth, until you can feel the dumpling inside being broken into irregular bits. Continue rolling it on the counter until it’s well-crumbled. If it resists being broken up by rolling the sack, open the sack and break the pieces of buckwheat up with your fingers.

Serving: Serve the kig ha farz with boiled meats, vegetables, or simply a pat of salted butter.

Storage: The kig ha farz can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated. It can be rewarmed in a microwave oven.

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Breton Buckwheat Dumplings, a gluten-free, regional French specialty that you can make in your own kitchen!

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Giant Bean Gratin (Pizza beans)

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I spent much of the fall and winter running around, while a pile of cookbooks waited patiently for me to cook from them. Now that I’m back in the saddle, and in the kitchen, I’m getting around to some of the many recipes that I’ve bookmarked. One of the first that caught my eye was the “Pizza beans” in Smitten Kitchen Every Day.

It also goes by the adult name, “Tomato and Gigante Bean Bake,” but since Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen, has two kids, calling them “pizza” made them more alluring than “bean bake.” Me? I need no excuse to simmer up a pot of beans, especially in the winter, when I am looking for any excuse to keep the oven fires burning.

There was a movement when everyone was told not to salt dried beans when cooking them. And to throw a wrench in another possible misconception, Russ Parsons says you don’t even need to pre-soak them.

As someone who has, so far, managed to resist the allure of adding a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or slow pressure cooker, to what seems to be the ever-shrinking space in my admittedly more-spacious-than-before kitchen, I still pre-soak beans. Even though I trust Mr. Parsons 99 percent, I’m a 1 percenter and still waiting for someone to prepare a side-by-side comparison to see how they come out. Then I turned to the internet and, of course, Kenji did it.

Then there’s the controversy around adding salt to the water while the beans are cooking. Food needs to cook with salt, and doesn’t taste the same when it’s salted afterward. (I got into a tiff with a butcher in Paris about that, when I was served an unsalted steak.) So I add salt when the beans are partially cooked, to split the difference. The real enemy of dried beans is hard water, which I found out the hard way (no pun intended…) when I was cooking dried beans in France and they refused to soften in the mineral-rich water. A teaspoon of baking soda added to the water will often do the trick, and some people use bottled water. Buying dried beans that are less than a year old is helpful, too.

I’m not sure these kinds of beans have a name in French, except for perhaps géant. Haricots des Soissons are excellent and would work well. I found mine in a market that specializes in Turkish ingredients, but in the U.S., Rancho Gordo Royal Corona beans are A+.

(Sharp-eyed readers, and even those that aren’t so sharp-eyed, will see that I cooked the vegetables in one pot, which I did the day before, due to time constraints. I wasn’t just doing it to add some pretty colors in the pictures. I’ve put those notes at the end of the recipe in case you want to make part of this gratin ahead.)

Once done, the beans are mixed with the vegetables and crushed tomatoes. After spending some time under the broiler, the cheese on top becomes bubbly and brown, like Belgian endive gratin.

Unlike Deb’s kids, my charge, Romain, isn’t reluctant to eat beans. And he didn’t need any urging when he had his first taste of garlic bread.

But really, isn’t there anything not to like about a loaf of crusty bread, smeared with lots of garlic, good butter, and sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese before being toasted under a broiler, until the center of the bread is soaked with what tastes like liquid garlic, and the top is brittle, slightly salty from the cheese, and crunchy-brown? I think not.

A couple of things about this gratin. This was designed to be family friendly, and with two toddlers, I suspect Deb was keeping it on the tamer side. If you want a little more oomph to it, feel free to add some crumbled cooked sausage, bacon, or diced chiles. Next time I might add a handful of chopped fresh sage, oregano, or basil to the mix.

Unless you’ve got some hearty appetites in your household, you’ll likely have leftovers. You can put them in a smaller gratin dish and warm them in the oven, then add more cheese and run it under the broiler.

To be honest, this gratin sustained us through three meals. And since I’m being honest (and because I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to change the color of my enamelware dishes in Photoshop), it was best the third day, when all the ingredients had plenty of time to meld into a hearty, cheesy, bubbling gratin. It also gave me an excuse to make garlic bread again, and again, and again.

Giant Bean Gratin  

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb PerelmanI used kale, but other sturdy greenery, like Swiss chard, broccolini, or mustard greens, would work. I made a few suggestions in the post about adding meat or extra herbs.You’ll need to start with 1 pound (450g) of uncooked beans to get the right amount for the recipe. Coronas are ideal, but the beans I used didn’t have the variety listed on the package. I know that there’s a Polish bean that’s quite large, and found an interesting blog post about them, along with some beans that are similar. Whatever you use, reserve some of the bean liquid if you want to use it in place of the wine (in step #2), and to add back to the beans before cooking, in place of the stock.Whatever you use, try to find the largest beans you can. This is a recipe where size matters.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/3 (80ml) cup white wine (or water, or bean liquid)

5 cups (120g) coarsely chopped kale leaves

2 1/4 cups (550g) canned crushed tomatoes

1 pound (450g) giant beans, cooked drained

about 1/2 cup (125ml) stock (vegetable or chicken) or bean liquid

8 ounces (225g) mozzarella, coarsely grated

1/3 cup (35g) grated Parmesan

coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1. If you have 2 1/2 to 3 quart (2-3l) stovetop-friendly gratin dish, use that for preparing the vegetables. (You’ll be baking the gratin in the same dish.) If your gratin (or similar sized dish, like a lasagna or braising pan) can’t be used on the stovetop, prepare the vegetables in a large skillet.

2. Heat the olive oil in the dish or pan. Add the onions and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are wilted, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another minute, then add the wine (or water or bean liquid), scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on or browned bits of vegetables. When the wine has been absorbed, add the kale and cook until wilted. Preheat the oven to 475ºF (245ºC).

3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the drained beans and cook everything together 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup of stock if the mixture looks dry. Taste, and season with additional salt, if necessary. If you’ve prepared the vegetables and beans in a skillet, up to this point, transfer them to an oven-safe baking dish (as mentioned in step #1).

4. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top of the beans, then the Parmesan, and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned on top. If you wish, run the gratin under the broiler until the topping is browned to your liking. (If making garlic bread, you can cook it at the same time under the broiler.) Remove the gratin from the oven, top with parsley, and serve.

Serving: Although not required, this goes well with garlic bread. Warm butter with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and let cool until spreadable (You can also add some dried oregano, a pinch of red pepper flakes to the butter, and/or some chopped parsley after the bread is baked.) Split a crusty loaf of bread, like a baguette, bâtard, or what’s often referred to as “Italian bread” in the U.S.

Lay the bread on a sheet of foil, cut side up, smear garlic butter over the bread. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and run the bread until the broiler until the top is browned.

Storage: If making the dish in advance, you can refrigerate the vegetable mixture for up to three days in advance. Rewarm it before adding it to the baking dish. In which case, it may need a little more liquid added when being rewarmed.

A hearty dish made of giant white beans, tomatoes, and vegetables, under a blanket of bubbling cheese.

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Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart

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When I first heard about tarte Tatin, nothing sounded better to me. What first seems like way too many apples packed into a skillet, then caramelized and baked under a blanket of buttery pastry, then turned out and served warm, became one of my favorite desserts.

I’ve had recipes for them in several of my books, but also enjoy the savory version. I’ve seen upside down tarts made with fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables, but an upside-down caramelized tart with Belgian endive always appeals to me the most. The contrast between the slightly bitter, chewy, spears of endive, make the base for a perfect savory tart, especially in the winter. And I don’t think anyone would disagree.

I’ve mentioned before that in France, Belgian endive isn’t considered a luxury ingredient and is widely available, even in supermarkets, where it’s sold by the kilo (2.2 pound) bag. I seem to always have some since it’s so good added to a winter salad, perhaps with pears, pomegranates, and blue cheese, or braised and baked into a savory gratin.

A while back, someone called me out for being pretentious when writing “bleu” cheese, so I’ve been doing my best to call it blue cheese. (Fortunately endive, and endive, are the same words in English and in French, so you don’t have to suffer through me on that one.) However even in English, bleu sounds better, and I think people know what it means without having to translate it. So you can use any kind of blue, or bleu, cheese that you’d like in this tart. The stronger, the better.

The dough is pretty simple to put together. And since you’re not really going to see it, it doesn’t matter if the sides are perfect, or if it buckles and rises in places.

Once baked, under a crackly, crispy disk, most sins are forgiven, even bleu, or blue ones. And who can quibble with a warm, savory tart on a cold winter day? I know I can’t.

While this caramelized endive tart is especially good right out of the oven, it’s also excellent reheated and served the next day for lunch. You could also cut it into smaller wedges and serve it as an appetizer, and if you’re not fond of blue cheese, slightly aged goat cheese would work just as well.

 

Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart

Print Recipe

You could dress this up with some black olives or branches of thyme baked with the endive.I bought puff pastry for this tart because I felt like it. (Actually, I had a gazillion things to do and there are worse problems in the world than using store-bought puff pastry made with all butter.) But if you want to make your own, you’re welcome to. If you’d rather use a standard tart dough for this, make the tart dough that goes with this quiche recipe.If you like a lot of cheese, have some extra bits handy to strew over the finished tart, when it’s warm from the oven. (The heat of the tart should melt the cheese, but you can coax it along with a butter knife.) Chopped chives or parsley would make a nice garnish.

2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

1 pound (450g) Belgian endive, about 7 spears

kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

4 ounces (115g) blue cheese, cubed, plus additional cubes if you wish, for finishing the tart

8 ounces (230g) puff pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180º).

2. Melt the butter in a 9-inch (23cm) cast iron skillet. Cut the Belgian endive spears in half lengthwise. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the melted butter in the pan and lay the endive spears, cut side down, in the bottom of the pan. They may not all seem to fit right now, but really try to crowd them in together, so they’re as close as possible.

3. Cook the endive spears over medium-high heat, pressing them down as they cook, but doing your best not to disturb or move them around, so they brown nicely on the underside. Once the cut sides of the endive are well-browned about 4 minutes, sprinkle the endives with the sugar or drizzle with honey, cover the pan and put in the oven to bake until the endive spears are almost cooked through, about 25 minutes, depending on their size.

4. Remove the pan of endive from the oven. Distribute the blue cheese cubes in the spaces between the endives, as well as on top of them.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to a 12-inch (31cm) circle. Drape the dough over the endives, and tuck the outside edges of the dough between the endives and the inside of the pan.

6. Bake the tart until the crust is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and overturn a serving platter on top. Holding both the pan and the plate, wearing oven mitts (being careful since some very hot liquid may drip out of the pan when doing this), turn both the plate and pan over to release the tart from the pan. Reunite any endive spears that may have stuck to the pan and bits of cheese. If you’d like, add a few more cubes of blue cheese over the top, while the tart is still warm.

Serving: Serve the tart warm. If you want to make it in advance, it can be rewarmed in a moderate oven, on a baking sheet. It’s best the same day it’s made.

It’s great with a green salad made of winter greens, such as escarole, radicchio, or frisée drizzled with walnut or hazelnut oil and a bit of sea salt. It’s also a good lunch along with a simple green salad with a dressing made with sherry vinegar and minced shallots.

Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart: A great French recipe for lunch or dinner

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Farro Risotto with Radicchio, Mushrooms, and Bacon

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This dish came together rather serendipitously on a Sunday afternoon. I was up to my elbows testing recipes and was looking for something savory for dinner that didn’t require too much prep, or dishes afterward. I’d brought home some colorful radicchio from the market, I had some bacon (don’t I always?), and there was a packet dried mushrooms in a kitchen drawer. So I gathered everything up and searched through my grains, to see what was in there.

I eat a ton of pasta, specifically whole grain pasta, which I can’t resist, especially if there’s garlic or radicchio involved. (And bacon, of course.) But in between a few bags of pasta was a small sack of petit épeautre (wheat berries) and a similar-sized bag of something unlabeled, which I was sure was farro. Whatever it was, the two bags came out to about 1 cup, which was just the right amount to make a wheat berry risotto, or farrotto.

Nope, this isn’t true risotto, since it’s not made with rice, but “stewed wheat” doesn’t sound very appealing. Farrotto is good if using farro, but épeautto doesn’t quite roll off the tongue either. And it was a Sunday night when I made this, and I was more interested in getting dinner on the table than fixating on the right name for it. (Farro isn’t squarely in the French lexicon and no one would have known what I was talking about if I said farrotto.)

Anyhow, back to the food. This was a huge hit. The dried mushroom broth added a deep richness that stock alone doesn’t always give, and the slightly bitter radicchio was tempered by the bits of bacon and creamy Parmesan that melted into the wheat berries. Cracking the wheat berries after they’re cooked helps them release more of their starch, so you get something that’s more emulsified than if you just cooked wheat berries as they are.

Earlier in the week, I felt a bout of la grippe (the flu) coming on and Romain went to the store to get a chicken for soup, and I made a big pot in preparation for being laid up a few days. I wasn’t paying that much attention, as one does when they are in the early stages of the flu, and ended up with quite a bit of liquid in my soup, which I used as stock for this. Fortunately, it was just a mini-bout of le gastro, and I felt better the next morning.

I know in the U.S., canned or boxed stock is a staple in most supermarkets. In France, they rely on le cube, which I’m not fond of, so I try to make my own stock when I can. I don’t use a recipe, I just add a chicken carcass (I often save parts and bones in the freezer for when I’m ready to pull out my stock pot), then add a chopped onion, a carrot or two, a bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme, then let everything simmer for a few hours on the stove.

In addition to not coming down with the flu, I was really happy with how this came out. It’s much heartier than risotto and less fussy; it’s one of those dishes where all the ingredients come together, and compliment each other, homey enough for a Sunday night dinner, but I’m thinking of making it again next week when I have company.


Paris Pop-Up Dinner!

On February 23rd I’ll be hosting a pop-up dinner in Paris, with recipes from My Paris Kitchen at Café Méricourt. (Books will be available for purchase and signing.) There will be two dinner seatings, 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm, and reservations are now being taken via their website. It’ll be a pre-fixe menu, and is posted on their website. [Update: The event has sold-out. I’ll revise this here, and on my Schedule page, if any spaces open up. Thanks! – dl]


Farro Risotto (Farrotto) with Radicchio and Bacon

Print Recipe

Different wheat berries (and farro) may take different amounts of time to pre-cook in step 2. You want them slightly tender, a little less than half-cooked, not completely cooked. Feel free to play around with the recipe. Omit the bacon if you’re vegetarian, replace the radicchio with other stewed greens, or add herbs that you like, sage and rosemary are possible swap-outs for the thyme. (If using rosemary, go easy on it as the flavor can be overwhelming.) You could add sautéed mushrooms, bits of cooked chicken, or roasted squash in step 9.I used dried porcini mushrooms, which are available at some produce stores and well-stocked supermarkets, but you can use whatever dried mushrooms are available, or another favorite. Some dried mushrooms may need to be cleaned by soaking in a change of hot water once or twice, although mine didn’t. Follow the instructions on the package or ask the vendor how best to treat yours.Serve the risotto/farrotto in warm soup bowls or plates, mounding it in the center. Shave Parmesan over the top, and sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.

3/4 ounce (20g) dried mushrooms

3/4 cup (180ml) hot water

1 cup (200g) farro or wheat berries (petit épeautre, in France)

olive oil

4 strips bacon, diced (you can use thick- or thin-cut)

3 to 4 cups (100-120g) coarsely chopped radicchio,

4 small shallots, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

kosher or sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

2/3 cup (160ml) dry white wine

1 cup (90g/3ounces) grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

2 branches fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

4 cups (1l) chicken or vegetable stock

additional fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish, such as thyme, chives or parsley

1. Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 quart (1l) of water until boiling. Add the farro or wheat berries and cook until they’re slighty tender, but still a ways from being fully cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and, using an immersion blender, pulse the wheat berries six or so times so that some of them (roughly one-quarter to one-third of them) are broken up and cracked. Strain though a mesh stainer. (I reserved the liquid, just in case I needed it later if I didn’t have enough stock. I didn’t use it, but you may want to hang onto it, just in case.)

3. In a small bowl, mix the minced shallots and garlic. In a medium skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the bacon, stirring, until cooked through but not crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Drain off excess fat, wipe the pan clean, and add the radicchio. Cook the radicchio over medium heat, stirring constantly with a little of the shallot and garlic mixture, and a pinch of salt, until wilted. You may need to add a little olive oil if the radicchio sticks. Transfer the radicchio to a plate.

4. Squeeze the mushrooms dry and coarsely chop them. Put them on the plate with the radicchio.

5. Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it warm on the stove.

6. In a 4- to 6-quart (4-6l) casserole or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil with the butter, sprigs of thyme, along with the remaining shallots and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots and garlic are soft and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Add the drained farro or wheat berries and stir to combine with the shallots and garlic. Add the white wine and continue to cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Using a ladle, add enough of the warm stock to cover the farro so there is a layer of liquid about 1/4-inch (1cm) floating on top. Adjust the heat so that the mixture is simmering. It should be bubbling gently, not boiling.

8. Continue to cook, adding additional stock (about 1/2 cup/60ml at a time) as the layer of liquid on the top gets absorbed, while stirring. When two-thirds of the stock has been used, add the mushroom liquid and continue to cook, adding more stock and stirring. The process will take 20 to 30 minutes.You may not have used all the stock. If you need a bit more liquid, use the reserved cooking liquid.

9. When the farro has softened add the bacon, radicchio, chopped dried mushrooms, and minced thyme. Cook a few more minutes, plucking out the thyme branches and adding the grated Parmesan. Stir while the mixture simmers, until everything is absorbed and incorporated.

Serve on warm soup plates with additional grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

A delicious take on risotto with farro (cracked wheat), flavorful radicchio, and bacon. A great first or main course, or a hearty side dish too!

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and reformer who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. Born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, Roosevelt successfully overcame his health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a "cowboy" persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he became a lifelong naturalist before attending Harvard College. His first of many books, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established his reputation as both a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York's state legislature. Following the deaths of his wife and mother, he took time to grieve by escaping to the wilderness of the American West and operating a cattle ranch in the Dakotas for a time, before returning East to run unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1886. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under [popover image="http://trulynutrilicious.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/mac.jpg" content="William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897, until his assassination in September 1901, six months into his second term" position="top" contentwidth="500"]William McKinley[/popover], resigning after one year to serve with the Rough Riders, where he gained national fame for courage during the Spanish–American War. Returning a war hero, he was elected governor of New York in 1898. The state party leadership distrusted him, so they took the lead in moving him to the prestigious but powerless role of vice president as McKinley's running mate in the election of 1900. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously across the country, helping McKinley's re-election in a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservatism.

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