Side Dishes Recipes

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Grilled Polenta with a Creamy Lemon Caper Goat Ricotta Cheese Sauce Recipe

Polenta is a fine-ground corn that is pretty easy to prepare. It can either be prepared soft and creamy, or dry and firm. Personally, I prefer the consistency of the firm version. The preparation is fairly simple; just constantly whisk the cornmeal in liquid until each grain swells up, refrigerate and cut into slices. Right before you're ready to serve, place the polenta on a grill pan to create some nice grill marks.

To create the perfect summer dish, I've paired grilled medallions of polenta with a creamy lemon caper goat ricotta cheese sauce. It's divine!


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Asian-Style Red Rice with Mixed Vegetables Stir-Fry Recipe

My uncle (the one who likes angel hair pasta) has been trying to convince me and Lulu to switch to red rice. Red rice is unpolished rice. It is short-grained, non-glutinous and has a maroon-red color. I've been giving Lulu brown rice with his meals for health reasons, but apparently red rice has a greater source of vitamin B, fiber and iron. 

Cooked red rice has a nutty aroma and is a lot chewier than regular white rice. Just make sure you cook red rice slightly longer than any other rice, such as brown rice.

I stir-fried the rice with some mixed vegetables to enhance the flavors. I added edamame for extra proteins. It's the perfect side dish for poultry or steamed fish.


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Carpaccio de Radis (Radish Salad with Herb-Infused Olive Oil) Recipe

I love red radishes. It's such an under-utilized and under-appreciated vegetable. The taste is clean, crisp, and mild. Unlike daikon or other kinds of radishes, they don't have a harsh mustardy flavor. Traditional carpaccio is thin slices of raw meat or fish, but I made a "carpaccio" out of the radishes by thinly slicing them with a mandoline.

In France, we would simply eat them with good quality butter, salt and pepper. Since the butter here in the US isn't as flavorful as the yellow butter produced by the grass-fed cows in France, I decided to liven up the dish with a truffle-Meyer lemon vinaigrette to make it more appealing. I drizzled Italian flat-leaf parsley-flavored oil for color. I chose flat-leaf parsley because it has a much milder flavor than cilantro. I wanted the radishes to be the focus of the dish and not be overpowered by other ingredients.


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Creamy Pearl Onion Gratin (Gratin d'Oignons Perles a la Creme) Recipe

Making a gratin d'oignons perlés à la crème requires two steps. First, braise the onions the way you would to cook pearl onion confit, then finish them in the oven as a gratin.

The pearl onion gratin is composed of pearl onions, crème fraîche, thyme, red chili flakes, nutmeg and parmesan. It's a nice accompaniment to poultry. I served it with the roasted pheasant stuffed with sage and Granny Smith apples I made for my 4-course French meal in honor of the movie "Julie and Julia".

One trick to making this dish look great is to use the right serving dish.  I especially like these individual serving dishes, which I got from Staub

Creamy Parmesan Pearl Onion Gratin with Picture


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Canapes au Camembert (Camembert Tartlet Shells) Recipe

Canapés au camembert are the perfect palate teasers. They have a flaky, buttery shell and are covered with a camembert sauce mornay, which is béchamel and some cheese. The key to a good homogenous spread is a ripe, gooey, aged cheese. The addition of mustard and a hint of red chili pepper make it slightly piquant.

You can serve them as appetizers, as a first course accompanied with a salad or bake in a large tart pan and serve it as a main course for a light lunch.

Making this dish took me back to my time in Paris just before I got married. I was working non-stop, and after work, my boss would often take me for dinner to a brasserie. We would always get some amuse-gueules to start our meal. Amuse, in French, means entertainment in a playful, casual way, and gueule is slang for mouth. Those wonderful appetizers were a perfect way to whet the appetite before a nice meaty main course. Amuse-bouches, like the canapés au camembert I made today, are just a more sophisticated name for the fare I had so often in those brasseries.


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