Thursday, August 30, 2007


I’m baking a carrot cake, and since it takes a long time, I thought I would spend it wisely and write a post about a dish, that it my mind at least, bears some similarities with carrot cake.

‘Arroz con pollo’ is literally ‘rice with chicken’, although nothing could be further than the truth, because it is closer to ‘rice with a whole bunch of things AND chicken’. Arroz con pollo is actually a great vegetarian dish if you take out the chicken, although if you take out the chicken you end up with ‘rice’. I had a home ec teacher in seventh grade, who taught us how to make a version of this rice without chicken and called it ‘garden rice’ which is a nice name that all you vegetarians out there can use if want to be fancy.

Arroz con pollo is a typical Central American dish; it is a one pot meal (which is great) especially for Ed who is perpetually on dishwashing duty. In Costa Rica, they like to make ‘arroz con pollo’ for big family reunions or birthday parties, in a huge pot that is only used at Christmas to boil tamales, or for this rice. They serve it with black beans and potato chips, I don’t know how this came to be, but my guess is that since there ARE potato chips in most parties, people just started eating them on the side, and it became a tradition to have potato chips with the dish, although from the outside (us foreigners) it does seem pretty strange, this is perfectly normal for Eduardo though.

Ok, so carrot cake and arroz con pollo aren’t all that similar, the one thing they have in common is they both have carrots in very small pieces. Maybe it was the color that reminded me of the rice. It doesn’t matter really, this rice is very good, it has tons of vegetables, it’s easy, it’s one pot (well two, close enough), it has a nice presence too, and if you make it vegetarian and you are NOT a vegetarian it could go nicely with rotisserie chicken. And tortillas! But that’s probably too much to ask. You can also substitute the chicken for small shrimp and serve it with a wedge of lemon, and you’ll get ‘arroz con camarones’.

(The first layer of my cake just came out of the oven and it smells and looks great! I will definitely post about it! It will be my first sweet post!)


Arroz con Pollo

1 cup long grain rice
1 chicken breast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 carrot
¼ of a bell pepper (any color)
1 small onion
1 handful of green beans or green peas (about ½ a cup)
2 cloves of garlic
2 chicken bouillon cubes (small)
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of oil
¼ teaspoon of food coloring (annatto, onoto, achiote, or bija they’re all the same, it is a natural coloring that comes from a South American tree, that is sometimes called ‘lipstick tree’ because of the color of its seeds) this is not necessary at all, ‘achiote’ has no flavor, it is just aesthetic). You can use any food coloring; even liquid food coloring is fine if you dissolve it in the stock first. Aim for a light orange.

In a small pot place the chicken breast, the water, the bouillon cubes and the bay leaf. Cook on high until it boils, cover, lower the temperature, and let it simmer. This will create a quick stock.

In the meantime chop all you vegetables in small peaces. In a large pot, heat the oil until its smoking; add all your vegetables, while stirring every now and then. Take the chicken out of the stock you’ve just made and put on a chopping board. By now you should start to feel the ‘aromas’ (this a very Latin way of cooking), add the rice to the vegetables, stir it until it is coated with the oil and all the ingredients are mixed well, add the stock (if you are using food coloring dissolve it in the stock before adding it to the rice). Stir once, and no more (if you stir rice too much it will get sticky), wait until it boils; lower the temperature to the minimum and cover. The rice will be done when the water evaporates.

Chop the chicken into small pieces and add to the rice when it is almost dry, mix lightly and serve!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I’ve decided to open this post simply with: ‘this one’s for Jono’. As you know, I have been struggling with the opening line for my posts; this line even comes up as ‘fragment’ on my spell check (or grammar)! I’m going to ignore it and tell you the story, a few weeks ago we had a mini farewell dinner party for Ceara, a girl from work, who was here for the summer. Turns out Ceara, being from California, really missed Mexican food. So I compromised and offered to make her a Latin American themed dinner party instead. We had ‘sopa negra’ or black soup in english as a starter, and they loved it! (especially Jono). Sopa negra is a black bean soup that takes some time, but it is well worth it. I just remembered my 9th grade English teacher explaining to me how I had a problem with ‘run-on sentences’, I wonder why.

The four things you must remember about beans are, one – soak them over night, two – don’t boil them, they don’t like it, they’ll just stay hard, three – you need to sort and wash them BEFORE you soak them (by sorting I mean looking for tiny pebbles disguised as beans), and four – canned beans are just nasty, so use the real thing. Also very important, where do you find them? In France, Asian (not Japanese though) and African markets usually carry them, Indian stores too. And if you live in Paris, there is a store that sells beans behind ‘La Bourse’, where they have every imaginable type of grain.

The reason this one is ‘for Jono’ is because he asked me for the recipe one of these days and I said – ‘I’ll make the soup, post the recipe, AND I’ll bring you some’- turns out I calculated the amount of beans wrong and we ate most of it, so I didn’t bring any soup to Jono and forgot to say anything about it, and for all I know he thinks of black beans everytime he looks at me, so Jono, I hope you like it, and next time I promise I’ll bring you some. And for the rest of you here it is!


2 cups of black beans ‘sorted, washed and soaked in water over night’
1 quart of water
2 tablespoon of olive oil
½ an onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped red sweet pepper
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1 red chili pepper chopped (no seeds!) or more than one that's up to you!

-Toppings –

Diced tomatoes
Sour cream
Diced avocados
Hard-boiled or poached eggs
And/or anything else you like!

Recapitulating, this is how you deal with the beans:

1. Measure the two cups.
2. Go through your beans and take out discolored/shriveled beans and the occasional pebble.
3. Wash them with water.
4. Rinse them.
5. Place them in a container or pot with four cups of water. (use a big pot, it’s better).
6. Cover them and, leave them over night.
7. The next day the beans will have absorbed a fair amount of water, and the water will be a dark purple, it’s ok! you’ve washed the beans, that’s the bean’s own pigment. Cook them in this water and the result will be a ‘blacker’ BLACK soup.
8. To cook them add a couple more cups of water to the beans, place your pot on the stove on high, and once the water is boiling lower the temperature to the minimum. Cover and let simmer until they are soft.

* All beans are different, the cooking time always varies, so keep an eye on them, check them every hour or so, and make sure they don’t run out of water. Also, if the beans have been sitting on the shelf for a very long time they will take more time to cook.

Once the beans are done, chop all your vegetables finely, and cook them over medium heat with the olive oil. While your vegetables are cooking, mash some of the beans (if you like a thicker soup) with a food processor or blender (I just use the bottom of a heavy mug, and do it in the same pot), if you use a food processor of blender, take about a cup of beans with some of the liquid (add more water if you need to), and return it to the pot. At this point the vegetables should be caramelized, add them to the soup together with the cilantro. Season with salt. Let the soup simmer for half an hour, and serve.

* The mashed beans have a grayish color, when you put them in the pot with the rest of the soup, if it doesn't look black (as black soup should), don’t despair, this is the reason you need to simmer for an extra half hour. Beans are not hard to make, you just need to know the tricks. (Jono is learning to cook, since this recipe IS for him I’m being thorough).

You can top this soup with anything you like, in Costa Rica, if the soup is not too thick, they poach some eggs in the soup and serve one egg per person, this is really good if you want add MORE protein to this dish (beans a great source of protein on their own). I served mine, with tomatoes, avocados, and sour cream. Buen Provecho! (enjoy! or bon appétit! in spanish).

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Saturday, August 25, 2007


When my sister and I where kids, we loved to tell people a joke that we called ‘the green world’, we thought it was the funniest thing ever! The whole point of the joke was to describe – well - a green world. The story could easily extend to over an hour and it was a favorite on long drives, like returning home from a weekend at the beach. In this 'story-joke' every possible word was preceded by ‘green’.

The joke would go sort of like this: ‘In a green world, there was a green town, and in the green town there lived a green boy. The green boy’s green mother told the green boy not to go out and green play that green afternoon” – insert every possible twist and turn here, while describing the green landscape, green flowers, green friends, green etc. – after the longest minutes of my parents lives, I’m sure, we got to the climax of the story where the green kid gets hurt, and an ambulance from the ‘green cross’ would come to take him to the green hospital (this was our favorite part, we felt so clever). Once the green kid got to the hospital they would wheel him into an operating room (green of course, but those are actually like that), and the green doctor would come out with terrible news for the green mother… “Mrs. Green, your green child…. (wait for it… ) has…. RED blood.” And we would burst out laughing every single time.

Today’s recipe is a little bit like that, it’s a couscous that is mostly green with a touch of red. You can embellish this couscous dish with any number of green ingredients you like. It comes with a really tasty chicken, that we topped with avocado (this is optional, but we have been taking advantage of the fact they are in season) – yes, the avocado was green – The recipe goes like this (my recipes are for two generous portions – well, more like one normal portion and one large portion).


Green Couscous

1 cup of dry medium couscous
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 juice of one lime or lemon (I prefer lime)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon of chili pepper
½ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley or cilantro (I prefer cilantro), you could use mint too.
2 cups finely diced cucumber.
2 tablespoons of finely diced red bell pepper

In a small pot heat the water with a teaspoon of salt. When it boils add the couscous. Cover and set aside.

In a large plate make a ‘dressing’ with the lime, the olive oil, cumin, chili pepper (or black pepper, red gives it a nice kick), salt and cilantro. Add the cucumber and the bell pepper.

Prepare the chicken, and right before it is time to serve, add the couscous to the dressing and mix carefully with a wooden spoon. Adjust the salt, and it is ready to go, you can also add more olive oil at this point.

Honey Glazed Chicken

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 minced garlic cloves
½ teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of honey
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Make a quick marinade, mixing together the mustard, honey, garlic and cumin. Coat the chicken with this mixture and let it absorb the flavors for 10 to 15 minutes (you can marinate it for a lot longer if you have the time).

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until very hot, place the chicken in the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (I find this is the easiest way to make sure your seasoning is right). Don’t move it, when you fist put chicken in the pan it STICKS to it, after a few minutes the chicken develops a ‘crust’ and then you can move it easily. This is when you turn them, wait until they have a nice caramel color (thank the honey for that). If your chicken breast are on the fat side you might want to add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover for a couple of minutes to make sure they are cooked through, if not, they are ready when the other side had caramelized as well.

Serve over green couscous, and enjoy you green dinner.

* this is the order in which I cooked this ‘eat-your-dinner’:

1 . I put the couscous and salt in the boiling water, covered them, and put them aside.
2. I made the marinade and put the chicken in, and put it aside.
3. I uncovered and broke up the couscous, and placed them on my windowsill to cool.
4. Got my couscous marinate ready.
5. Heated the pan, and cooked the chicken.
7. Asked husband to place the table.
6. Moved chicken to a plate.
7. Incorporated the couscous into the dressing.
8. Opened the avocado.
9. Added some leftover peanuts (from the famous pad thai, that I haven't written about yet) for crunch.
10. Served dinner.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The hardest part about writing a blog is the opening line. This is my third entry, and I already know that. Blogs are just too informal. At least mine is, and this is something I don’t see changing any time soon, I don’t even think I would want to change this. The second hardest thing is trying to write when your husband is beside you surfing the web, I just forgot where I was going with this, you see want I mean? Oh yeah, now I remember, I always (all three times) have had the impulse to open with “so, this and that…” I’m going to have to dedicate some serious thinking to the opening line from now on.

In other news, I am happy to report, that I’ve gotten four comments on my newborn blog! I’m also happy to inform to my readers (all 14 of you!) that my dad is my biggest fan! thanks. I've been thinking about dinner all day, the thing is, yesterday I made pad thai (I’m going through an asian phase here), and we thought it was great, the pictures came out nice, everything was good, and then as I was about to start writing I realized that my last post was pho. And to go from lentils, to pho, to pad thai was just confusing, so I decided to swing back and forth and make something western first and then pad thai. (also Gob, gave a me what i am sure is a much better recipe today, that i might try tomorrow). So my recipe for today is ‘the frenchie’. Also, since my dad had such sweet comments for me, I’m using his favorite herb: tarragon, which I love too. I don’t use tarragon often enough. Tarragon is one of those few lucky herbs that are still great when dry. I don’t know about you, but for me most other herbs like basil and oregano, get a generic tea like flavor (mmm smell, I don’t try them after this stage) after a couple of weeks in the cupboard. It’s also a great herb to use during the winter when it is hard to find fresh herbs. So dad here it goes.

I made chicken (you can use veal too, or any meat that you like) topped with a creamy tarragon-mushroom sauce, you know the French love their champignons!, with caramelized carrots and a boiled potato with butter and salt on the side (so simple yet so good). Speaking of champignons I actually have a question about them. A few of us went out for crepes yesterday, and since it was our first day back from our summer vacation, we didn’t have the street crepes, we had a nice sit down lunch at a restaurant called ‘Suzette’ (appropriate don’t you think?) in Rue des Francs Bourgeois, in Le Marais (if you’re ever in town, you should check it out). They have this crepe (it’s actually a gallette, the ble noir version, dark wheat flour) with chicken, mushrooms and cream. Three people ordered this crepe, except for one of the guys, who got it without mushrooms, for no particular reason, other than they didn’t do anything for him. I had never heard of anybody not liking mushrooms!, even my sister who ‘doesn’t like any vegetables’ (her words) likes them, am I the only one who finds this bizarre? (I just love it when they say bizarre in French).

For my sauce, I heated a big pan, you want to heat it well, so that when you throw in the mushrooms, they cook fast and brown (if it’s not hot enough they will dehydrate and get mushy and chewy). Once the pan is smoking, put in about one tablespoon of olive oil with a couple of minced garlic cloves, let them sizzle for a bout 30 seconds and throw in about 500 grs. of quartered mushrooms. Move them around in the pan, don’t season until the end! Salt will result in a water problem again. When they brown, add one tablespoon of tarragon, and about half a cup of milk with one tablespoon of flour diluted in it (it’s hard to dilute flour in cold liquids, if your milk is cold, use a little bit if warm water of chicken stock to dilute the flour), it’s important to dilute de flour before, that way your sauce will come out creamy and smooth. Keep moving it, until it boils (this is when the flour will thicken the sauce) season with salt and pepper, and serve over pan fried chicken. If you want a richer sauce, finish with butter.
For the side dish, I sliced a carrot finely and boiled it until it was cooked (same water as the potatoes I just put them in when the potatoes where almost done). I drained my vegetables, put the potatoes aside, heated a small pan, and put in a tablespoon of butter + the cooked carrots + 2 teaspoons of brown sugar + salt. Gave it a minute, and done! This resulted in deliciously simple dinner and in pretty pictures too!


Mushroom Ragu

500 gr / 1 pound mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon tarragon
½ milk
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
Butter (optional, but this will make it frenchier)
2 chicken breasts

Caramelized Carrots

2 Carrots sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Salt (no pepper)

* the potato was pealed and boiled, topped with butter and coarse salt

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Dear reader:

The reason you are reading this, is because the blog has a name! yeii! So ‘eat your dinner’ is our name. Since both Ed and I are out all day, we only eat dinner together, which is the only meal I cook, except for weekends when I make lunch too. So ‘eat your dinner’ seemed appropriate, it should be ‘eat your dinner, and lunch too’ because I usually take leftovers to work, but that was pushing it, so ‘eat your dinner’ it is! Welcome!

Ok, on to today’s (I almost wrote show, haha, and we don’t even have a tv) recipe. It is my friend Yu’s birthday, and I am making ‘Pho noodle soup’ in her honor, she really likes it! Well, she loves any Asian noodle dish, but I am gonna go with Pho.

I am making my own version of Pho, for I am not Vietnamese, let alone Asian. Although I have to say, that during the last year and a half, I have been working with a lot of Asian women, all of them American-fill in the blank (Chinese, Korean, Singapore, etc) and one Thai guy, Gob, who just last week made a delicious green curry for us, and gave me his very HOT recipe, which he had to tame down for our wimpy palates.

Since we are on a Vietnamese theme, Yu and Kurt (her boyfriend) also introduced us, to Vietnamese sandwiches, they are so good! I had never tried them (I didn’t even know the Vietnamese had typical sandwiches). They were made with French bread (like our hot dogs, from the last post, I don’t know if that is the traditional way, or just convenient here in France) sliced pork, a spicy mayonnaise type sauce, thinly sliced carrots and cucumbers, and fresh cilantro. Do give them a try, they are delicious, we’ve made them at home a few times and really love them.

Back to my soup, I know this is going to sound like a lot to do, but it really is not, it didn’t take me that much time, really. While I had the stock simmering I prepped everything, and then five minutes before serving, I sliced the beef, cooked the noodles an assembled (strange word, but that is how this one works) the soup.

These are the steps, I sliced garlic and ginger, and slowly cooked it in olive oil. I then mashed some chili pepper with a little bit of oil and salt. Diced some scallions, and washed a handful of fresh soy beans, a handful of cilantro and one baby bok choi (I didn’t see this in any of the recipes I consulted, but I thought it would be nice, and it was). After, all that was left to do was boil and rinse the noodles, assemble a pretty plate, and pour the hot stock over it.



4 cups of water
1 bay leaf
½ unpeeled washed onion
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup of beef (any beef that’s good for soup) cubed (1x1)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of fish sauce

Place all ingredients in a big pot. Cook on high until it boils.

Lower the temperature. Simmer for 45’.

Strain the broth. Slice the meat thinly. Reserve.

Add the fish sauce to the broth.

Taste. Adjust salt.


1 baby bok choi
1 package Asian noodles (I used flat rice noodles)
3 cloves of garlic
1 one-inch piece of ginger
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 scallions finely chopped
½ cup of fresh bean sprouts
1 handful fresh cilantro, without chopping
1 lime quartered
1 tablespoon of crushed chili pepper

* I made a paste with the chili pepper, crushing one tablespoon of chili pepper, with a drop of olive oil and some salt.

Thinly slice the ginger and the garlic. Place it on a cold pan with the olive oil. Stir. Cook on a low flame until the ginger and garlic are caramelized. Set aside.

Wash cilantro, bean sprouts, and bok choi in cold water.

In the meantime, boil some water. Chop the bottom part of the bok choi off, separate the leaves, and cook it in the hot water for a couple of minutes, rinse in cold water. Use that same water to cook the noodles. About 5’

Heat the broth. Rinse the noodles in cold water.

On a deep dish, place a handful of noodles. Arrange the rest of the ingredients one next to the other on top of the noodles. Pour the hot broth until it covers all the ingredients. Serve with a wedge of lime and extra chili pepper paste for the brave ones! (aka Ed)

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Saturday, August 18, 2007


This is my first official entry, the last one was just an introduction to the nameless blog; there is an actual recipe involved here.

This weekend has been really laid back; we got back to Paris yesterday, and decided to rest from our vacation. In France people usually take a couple of weeks off (some even the whole month) in august. Paris can get very hot in the summer, and there aren’t that many places equipped with air conditioner, so people go to the beaches or to the country and rest, kids have their summer breaks too. This year was strange because we had no summer in Paris, it never got hot, and it rained most of the time, compared to the 35 C (around 90 F) in the evening last year.

For our vacation, we went to London to visit some friends and to Bretagne (west of France) to visit my aunt, with an eight hour layover on Paris in between, during which we unpacked from one trip and packed for the other, now that I think of it, we packed everything backwards, London was sunny and beautiful, and we where expecting rain, and Bretagne was, well, just wet.

Since we had been away for most of the week I really felt like staying home, so Ed (the self professed guinea pig) went to the supermarket and I stayed home to get a head start on the cleaning, this is when I decided to defrost the freezer (which took two days).

This is not an advisable thing to do right before your husband comes home from the market. Luckily as I mentioned before, our fridge is tiny so we don’t buy that many groceries. But I had been putting it off for so long.

So this weekend was all about saving the perishables, I poached all the chicken and baked a very French yogurt cake. Since I used only part of the chicken stock for a pasta sauce yesterday, today I still had a good two cups left; I decided to make a lentil soup.

I simmered the stock with about a cup of lentilles du puy, added a sliced carrot, let it boil for a bit, and topped with sautéed zucchini and voilà, a delicious quick dinner, the zucchini gives it lovely sweet flavor and the carrots give the creamy soup a little bit of a crunch, I also added half a chicken breast at the end, but the best part was dipping some crusty bread in it! I had it with some baguette left over from breakfast, yum. Ed had a ‘French-American’ hot dog on the side, (French=the bread, American= relish and onions), his very own version of soup and sandwich.


2 cups chicken stock
1 small bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
1 cup of lentils
1 small carrot
1 pinch of chili pepper
½ poached chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small zucchini

In a small pot, bring the chicken stock, bouillon cube and bay leaf to a boil.

Once it’s boiling add the lentils. Stir.

When it boils again. Lower temperature. Cover. About 20’. Until the lentils are soft.

* what I did to make it thicker, was mush it a little bit with the bottom of a coffee mug before adding the carrots.

Slice the carrot. Thinly. Add to soup.

Add chili pepper. Cook. About 10’

Add the sliced poached chicken breast. Cook just enough to warm (if you boil it, it gets hard and chewy). About 2’.

Slice the zucchini. Heat a small pan. Add Olive oil.

Sautee zucchini. Don’t salt, it’s perfect when sweet on top of the soup.

Serve the soup in bowls. Top with zucchini. Dip some crusty bread in it.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

I don’t have a name for my blog yet, but I’ve decided to go ahead and write my fist entry anyway. I’m so excited! I don’t think I can wait until the ‘perfect’ name comes along! (maybe I can try something like ‘the nameless food blog’ but that’s just bad). So, after spending the last two days reading blogs, it finally sunk on me! I turned around, looked at my husband and said to him ‘I’m from that planet!’ inevitably the next thing that popped into my mind is ‘I should start a blog!’ I even have guest bloggers in mind! After that, Ed (my husband) has brought it up about a dozen times. He’s even tried to come up with a name for me, needless to say we are not there yet. For me, the obvious choice for a blog is food, I love food, I love cooking food, and I love to experiment. My experiments don’t always come out perfect but I’ve got a wonderful fan at home, and he always has something nice to say about whatever crazy thing I come up with, and he’ll eat it too! So it’s perfect.

I should mention that one of the reasons Ed wants me to start a blog, is that he is a very committed blogger, he has three blogs, and (one of his selling points) he knows all the tricks.

Now, my kitchen. We live in Paris, in a very small apartment, and when a say very small, a mean tiny. I have two hotplates, and mini fridge, with a nano freezer, and a toaster oven. So whatever you see here, be aware, does not, by any means, require much of a kitchen, this is as low-tech as it gets my friends! And now tah-dah!! My new (insert name here) blog! Enjoy! Oh yeah, we’re in France so, Bon Appétit!