Tuesday, November 27, 2007


What to do when you have just enough for one, but two at the table? Pasta!

We had the equivalent of one portion of uncooked leftover salmon from this weekend's tzatziki.salmon dinner, and tonight I was looking for a quick and easy dinner where I could use the leftover salmon and most importantly stretch it for two. I decided to make spaghetti in a cream sauce (stretching tip: if you want to create the illusion of quantity, slice or cut what needs to be 'stretched' into smaller pieces).

I have never been a fan of cream sauces, I am the girl who goes for the spicy puttanesca or frutti di mare. Cream sauces are usually a little too bland, a little too heavy and a little too white for me. But if paired with something like rucula (aka 'arugula, roquette, or rocket') to break the 'white ride' I'm all in. I also have a husband and a sister who love white sauces. So tonight I met them halfway with this dish, composed of spaghetti, salmon, rucula and a simple white sauce. Seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and lemon zest. And finished with soft shredded cantal cheese.

So here it goes, a middle of the week eat-your-dinner treat: spaghetti.rucula.e.salmone ...


400gr uncooked spaghetti

* this is a 'medium' portion, I use a little less than half a pack for two

1 clove of garlic - mashed

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 salmon fillet (100gr) - lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

1 tablespoon of flour

1/2 cup of milk + 1/4 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup shredded cantal cheese

1 1/2 cups of fresh arugula

salt and pepper

Season the salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook over very high heat, with the olive oil, for two minutes on each side (or until you get a slight crust). Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Return the pan to the stove. Add the flour, and mix with the remaining oil. Add the milk and water and stir until it reaches boiling point. This is when it will start to get thicker. Once it has thickened (it won't be too thick, but you will notice a change in texture) season with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Set aside. Slice the salmon. Cook the pasta as you normally would. Drain. Add the sauce, the cheese, and season with more salt. Fold carefully to coat the pasta with the sauce. Fold in the arugula right before you serve it.

* I am happy to report that both the 'cream team' and 'not-so much team' loved this dish!
** Come back tomorrow for the nutrition facts.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


I don't bake. I cook. But every once in a while I feel the urge to mix something up, put it in the oven and see what comes out. This has resulted in countless so-so cakes, and even though Eduardo swears they are good, I know better, they are really borderline edible. Don't get me wrong I can make a good cake, but baking is science, it's about following the rules. That's the root of the problem, I tend not to follow the [cooking] rules - have you noticed? - I have my version of almost everything.

Well, this attitude has not translated well into baking, first because I also have a calorie conscience, and second because I don't like overly sweet things. So I usually cut the sugar and the fat. Oh, I am also not a fan of electric mixers, so I usually rely on my abilities with the wooden spoon. Needless to say the butter usually gets swapped for vegetable oil. You get the picture. Not a good one. But wait don't stop reading, this recipe is actually good!

I baked this cake for a picnic last year, so I wasn't as strict with the rules. The original recipe called for butter and sour cream. When Eduardo found out the cake was going to have sour cream, he gave me a 'sour-cream-is-for-dip' look and told me 'he didn't like sour cream in cakes'. The cake came out pale and silky and the raspberry swirls created a beautiful contrast. Eduardo was sold. He later reflected on the fact that he loved sour cream - why wouldn't I love it in cake too? - yeah.

For my version of the cake, I substitute the sour cream for fat free yogurt (* yogurt cake is a classic in France, it's a rustic cake made by measuring all the ingredients with the yogurt pots!). It calls for vegetable oil, so I used that, and vanilla. I substituted the vanilla for lemon, because it breaks the sweetness and works well with the raspberry jam.

I beat it by hand, so all you need is a bowl, measuring cups and a wooden spoon, enjoy!


2 eggs

2 pots of yogurt - 125 gr each

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1 lemon - juice and zest

2 cups of cake flour

1 1/2 tablespoons of rapsberry jam (framboise)

1 tablespoon of water

Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C

In a large bowl beat the eggs, the yogurt and the sugar with a wooden spoon. Add the oil, the lemon juice and zest and mix. Mix in the flour.

*Mix only until the batter is homogenous, if you beat it too much it can result in a hard cake (believe me I know).

In a small cup dilute the jam with the water.

Grease and flour a cake pan - I like to make squares so I use a square or rectangular pan - pour the batter onto the pan. With a spoon laddle the jam on top of the batter, and make swirls with a knife. Bake for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Let it cool, cut it into squares, and dust with confectioners sugar!


PS - No nutritional info on this one. It's cake! ok, so it does have a lot less fat that regular cake, but it is still cake, so enjoy it! Just don't eat the whole thing or do it every day :)


Last week was 'strike week'. Most of France was on strike. Metro workers, bus drivers, airlines, the postal service, the energy company, teachers, students, doctors, where on strike, to name just a few.

The situation was surreal, especially since I was still expected to show up for work. ‘Eat-your-dinner’ was the fist one to suffer the consequences, and automatically went on strike, I don’t even remember what we ate, if we ate (did we?) last week.

The events that happened during the strike are all blurry in my mind. Due mostly to the fact that in order to avoid the crowds (herds) of people on the metro, we went on a ‘shifted schedule’ in a routine that went like this:

5:30 am - Wake up
6:00 am - Drag myself to the metro station
7:00 am – Work
4:00 pm - Go home
6:00 pm - Aimlessly surf the internet
9:00 pm - Collapse into bed
10:00 pm - Fall asleep

*Repeat as many days as necessary.

So today I celebrate freedom! By cooking! I had wanted to post a Greek plate for a long time; I actually made Moussaka, a couple of weeks ago but didn’t get around to write about it. I like to post recipes from all over the world, I think nowadays is so easy to find ethnic ingredients, that we can all experiment a lot more. The star of today’s recipe is tzatziki (just saying the word makes me happy).

Tzatziki is a greek dressing, or mese, that is made with plain yogurt and cucumbers. Tzatziki is one of those things that you can eat with anything: sandwiches, salads, meats, chips (!). Tzatziki is to Greeks what ranch dressing is to Texans! Speaking of Texans, it would be great with chicken wings. And the best part? It is really healthy, it is very low in saturated fat and in calories.

We had it on top of salmon with a side of wheat. The salmon was cooked for a couple of minutes, which kept it raw inside, like a tartar. And the wheat was dressed with a lemon and cilantro vinaigrette (with a twist).



This recipe makes a little over two cups

1 small pot of plain sweetened yogurt (125gr), fat free is perfect.

1 1/2 cups of grated seedless cucumber (about one big cucumber)
1/4 teaspoon (or less) garlic (mashed into a paste)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon of crushed black pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil

* I changed the proportions of the ingredients, my recipe has a lot more cucumbers than yogurt, which makes it really thick. You can play with this, I knew Eduardo wouldn't like it if it tasted (too much) like yogurt, so this is why I made it like this.

Peel the cucumber. Grate it. And (in parts) squeeze with your (clean) hands the cucumbers, you can use a cheese cloth if you want to do it all at once. I don't normally have cheese cloth around, so my hands worked just fine. All you do is transfer from on bowl to another. Reserve the liquid, the color is a beautiful bright green and it is a great base for a salad dressing. (read wheat recipe).

For the plain yogurt, you know how when you open them, they tend to have a solid part and some liquid around? discart the liquid and use the solid part. In France they sell ready-made tzatziki, made with crème fraîche instead of yogurt, you can substitute the yogurt if you don't like the taste of it, sour cream works too, just keep in mind that it won't be as healthy.

Mix all the ingredients. Chill for at least one hour before serving.


Semi-Tartar Salmon

2 salmon fillets (100gr each) at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon of garlic (paste, use what was left from the tzatziki)

1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

salt and peper

1/2 tableepoon of olive oil

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and rub with the garlic and lemon zest.

Heat a pan until it is smoking, coat with the olive oil. Cook the salmon two minutes on each side. Make sure that the salmon is at room temperature, so it is not cold inside, remember we are going for a raw middle. Serve immediately. Top with Tzatziki (be generous, it's really really good).


Cucumber-Lemon Wheat Grains

1 cup of dry wheat
*wheat grains are a great alternative to rice. They are high in dietary fiber and in phosphorus and manganese.


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of cucumber liquid (what you squeezed out of the shreded cucumbers)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice (same one)
1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of any herb you have (dill, cilantro, basil, or parsley work well)

Whisk together and set aside.

Cook the wheat like you would pasta: in boiling water for about ten minutes. Drain. Incorporate the vinaigrette and serve.

I hope you liked this, I don't generally post full menus like this, but because of the way the ingredients work together in all the plates, I thought it would be a nice change of pace. Don't forget to check out the nutritional facts for the whole meal. Bon Appétit!

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Monday, November 12, 2007


It was this summer that Gob, a Thai intern who worked in the office from June to September, created a curry madness in the office. Turns out Gob, this is not his real name, this is his nickname, I will refrain from mentioning his real name for he is so attached to Gob he actually introduces himself as so. Once, I dared calling him by his real name, and he made it clear to me that if I chose to refer to him as that, I would join the club of 'people Gob doesn't like', yes he refers to Gob on the third person. If you haven't figured it out already, Gob was quite a character, quite a cook as well, of everything Thai, exclusively Thai, and, (lucky for me) he could recite recipes on cue. That's how I learned to make curry. The Thursday before summer break, We had a little potluck at the office, and along with the curry tasting came the recipe. A following came too, and for a few of us, curry is still a weekly indulgence.

Now this is where I am going, curry is by all means an indulgence, sure it is spicy, sure it can squeeze a few tears out of you, but health wise it seems pretty innocent right? WRONG. Two words: COCONUT MILK. (Check out the new addition to the blog! Nutrition Facts!). Coconut Milk is the equivalent of tropical mayonnaise! It's PURE fat! And not the good, make-your-hair-shiny avocado-like-fat, the bad kind! the lard kind. The saturated kind! I was talking to Lisa, another curry groupie, about this today. She actually looked up the nutritional info of coconut milk and was appalled with what she saw. She also helped inspire, along with Eduardo, the new 'eat-your-dinner' nutrition facts label. Which means I'll be crunching numbers to bring you the nutritional information of the recipes we post.

After discussing the un-benefits of coconut milk, I thought I could come up with a version of curry that used the least amount of coconut milk, without compromising the flavor. I must admit it is pretty close, minus the guilt feelings. Before, I didn't usually use the BIG can of coconut milk the recipe called for, but I still used about 3/4 of a cup, which we now know what amounts too in terms of fat and calories.
I say, leave the full fat curry for special occasions, and try the heart happy version, for weeknights. Leave out the fish sauce for a heart happier version, the sodium content in fish sauce is sky high!


1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of red or green curry paste (green is spicier than red)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast cubed

1 medium eggplant sliced

1 medium zucchini sliced

1/2 cup of water

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

1/4 cup of coconut milk

5 basil leaves (I like to use both cilantro and basil, but that's up to you)

1 lime


1. Heat a wok or a big pot. Add the oil. When it starts to smoke, add the chicken and the curry paste. Keep moving it, you don't want it to stick.

2. Before the chicken starts to brown, add the water and stir to dilute the curry paste.

3. Add the sliced vegetables.

4. Cover. Let it sweat now. Move every now and then. Careful with the eggplant. You don't want to break it.

5. After a couple of minutes, add the fish sauce. Add more water if it looks like it's drying out. There should about a cup of liquid from the veggies.

6. When the vegetables are ready, add the coconut milk. Cover. Cook for about one minute, only to bring it up to temperature. This is the trick! The more you cook it, the more it looses its flavor. By just heating it you can get maximum taste with the least amount of milk.

7. Squeeze half the lime in the broth. Add the herbs. Serve over rice with a wedge of lime.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico sounds absolutely beautiful! In reality what this is, is my basic tomato sauce. So simple yet so enjoyable.


1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
5 tomatoes (small ripe ones like roma tomatoes would be great, but whatever you have on hand really) diced.
1 teaspoon of salt
Fresh basil (a small handful, you can put as much as you want/have in, you can't go wrong with basil) torn with you fingers.

In a small pot over medium/low temperature, pour the olive oil, and add the garlic and the chili pepper flakes, all at the same time.
Cook, stirring occasionally for about five minutes, make sure the garlic doesn't brown, this will make it bitter.

Raise the temperature to high and add the tomatoes with the bay leaf, once little bubbles start forming, lower the heat to medium and cover. Cook for about 10 min, add the basil and season with salt.

The sauce is ready!
Enjoy it over spaghetti (or spaghettini, my favorite) or for 'melanzane al pomodoro' or 'eggplant al tomato'.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007


When I started cooking, I stuck with what I liked. I learned to make my mom's classic dishes, like lasagna better known as pasticcio at home, and basic things like rice and chicken. As I started venturing out on my own, and reading cookbooks, I made dishes I already knew I liked.

My sole objective was making whatever it was that I liked even better, mixing different recipes, substituting ingredients and adding a few unexpected ingredients to the mix, all this worked really well, but I needed a challenge.

That's how I started experimenting with things I didn't enjoy so much, like petit pois, or ginger, or carrots. I now like petit pois and ginger, especially ginger, very much. The only thing I still can't get around to eating are olives, and it is not because I don't give them a chance, I do, I really do, I try them at every chance I get, I even tried them in Morocco, I just don't like them. So, if you have any good recipes involving olives that you think I would like, you know how to reach me (clue: look for the bananas).

I also post this in light of the controversy over Jessica Seinfeld's (Jerry Seinfelds's wife) book 'Deceptively Delicious', which is all about making children eat better by hiding things like spinach (eew) in brownies, which is not only deceptive, it's also sad. I am sure most kids would eat spinach in say, raviolis? There are better ways to nourrish your children, than fooling them into thinking they can eat whatever they want.

By putting spinach in the brownies, you are just ruining the brownies! How about... (just a thought here) the classic... "No, brownies, until you eat-your-dinner!" that seemed to work fine with my generation. Oh, and the controversy surrounding the book is not about the insane premise of this book, it is about plagiarism (!) , turns out someone else thought about this too, poor kids.

Anyway I got carried away with the spinach brownies back there (greenies?). Returning to my carrots, this was the dish that brought carrots back into my life. It also made me realize, that I didn't have a problem with carrots, I actually like them, what I dislike are boiled soggy carrots. I like to eat this as a snack over crackers, it also makes a good side dish.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 julienned onion
3 shredded carrots
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Once you have your onion and carrots ready, heat a large pan add the olive oil and sautee the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the carrots, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and cook mixing frequently for about 7 minutes until they are done. Aside from the heat, add the balsamic vinegar and toss well. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

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Monday, November 5, 2007


I have to admit I love falafel, ever since the first time I tried falafel I loved it, it wasn't an acquired taste or something that grew on me, I loved it, I always did. The one little problem? It always gave me a stomach ache. So I stayed away, I loved the idea of it, not the reality.

I was suddenly re-introduced to falafel the other day at work. Will was having these delightful little treats for lunch. He had pita bread, hummus, and fried eggplant, it looked and sounded great! The best part? They were homemade. It never, in all my falafel days, occurred to me that I could make them! (This is starting to sound too much like the Vietnamese sandwiches, but bear with me, it gets better).

Falafel is a fried ball of spiced chickpeas, that is traditionally Jewish, and it is said to date back to biblical times. Nowadays, falafel can be found all throughout the Middle East and in India and Pakistan as well.

On Sunday we were also doing a ‘technology Sabbath’ at home, so naturally, I decided falafel would be the perfect choice! I couldn’t consult the computer for recipes, so I had to rely on memory (what Will had told me), and on cooking savvy. I, for example, based my falafel on meatball principles and used breadcrumbs and an egg to bind the mixture together, instead of flour which is what is normally used, this resulted in ‘crunchier’ falafel. The crunchy falafel won me ed-points, I got a five this time, but since I usually get a five, I don’t know how reliable these ed-points are. I have my own little rating system: 'blog-worthy' o not, so you can be sure that whatever is here has passed at least two rating systems.

I served the falafel over eggplant, accompanied by a yogurt-parsley sauce, I highly recommend them on computer-free days. Also, the homemade version only results in a stomach ache if you use the same oil for 45 to 60 batches (not recommended). Enjoy!


1 medium can of chickpeas - mashed
¼ cup of chopped parsley
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1small clove of garlic - mashed
¼ cup of breadcrumbs + more for breading
Frying oil

Combine all the ingredients until they form a paste, yes with your hands. Form ping-pong size balls. Roll in bread crumbs (optional), and fry. You can deep-fry them, or shallow-fry them like I did, just make sure you turn them so they get a nice golden color all over.
* as Ed was reading this post he said out loud 'ping-pong sized balls? I'd make 'em bigger, man!" See how I get those fives?

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Thursday, November 1, 2007


The first time I mentioned vietnamese sandwiches was on one of my first posts, when i I wrote about pho noodle soup. Our friends Yu and Kurt were the ones to introduce us to these delicious and easy to make sandwiches that are called Bánh mì in vietnamese.

This is one of those things that people don't think of making at home, when we think of sandwiches we usually go with what we already know. But we love these, we don't use pickled carrots, and we have our own version of the spicy mayo, but they still make a great saturday lunch.

Today we made bánh mì gà, the chicken version. The nice thing with these is you can stuff them with whatever you have, whether it's chicken, pork or beef (or even tofu), we tried them with tuna one day and they were excellent (this is the americanized version! but who doesn't like a tuna sandwich?).

Basically what you need is: a fresh baguette (we prefer it on the softer side for this), thinly sliced carrots and cucumbers, cilantro and whatever meat you decide to use, leftover chicken is perfect, all you have to do is slice it. The secret ingredient is the mayo, what I do is mix some mayonnaise with sriracha sauce, a little bit of sesame oil and some black sesame seeds. All you really need is the mayonnaise and chili sauce, but the oil gives it a nice flavor and i just love the way black sesame look. I also like to keep the chili oil that comes with pizza, and just mix that with the mayo. Compose your sandwich with all the ingredients and eat away! I love them!

* For the tuna version we just mixed the tuna with the mayo before hand.

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Today at the Asian Market we discovered this beautiful red whole grain rice (I must confess that was the only reason I bought it) and I figured that taste wise it couldn’t be too far from the regular whole grain rice, and would give me a boost in my quest to create an original ‘eat-your-dinner’ recipe, even though I ended up mixing and matching ingredients to create a ‘sort-of-thai’, ‘kinf-of-vietnamese’ fried rice, it was well worth the effort. I also found out that Red Rice is being used in China as a dietary aid to lower cholesterol; they have even started developing medicines from this type of rice. So it is healthy too.

The whole point of this blog is to share inventive alternatives for everyday cooking, and this recipe was pretty much that! I bought my beautiful rice, but didn’t plan on much more than that. I left the market with one small can of coconut milk (good to have in case you have a curry emergency), cilantro, one piece of ginger, one carrot, and one giant sweet potato. I know the sweet potato sounds strange, but I found a Japanese baked sweet potato recipe that sounds amazing. I might write about it later. That is, if it turns out good.

I got home, got my groceries out, and realized that my choices weren’t all that consistent, and I really wanted to do something with the rice. I had week-old brussel sprouts, eggs, lime, and onions. I could make brussel sprout fried rice! That’s not too weird, is it? Well the lesson behind this story is you can make dinner with whatever you have at hand. I hope you like it! Eduardo gave it 4/5 ‘ed points’, he’s started rating recipes, I’d say it’s a VERY good score for ‘Brussel Sprout Fried Rice’, but we’ll call it ‘Red Rice’.

* I forgot to mention the rice! It is wonderful, it’s nutty and has a more delicate flavor than that of regular brown rice. The grains are also long and thin, which gives it a very nice texture.


1 cup red whole grain rice
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 pinch of chili pepper
1 small onion
1 ½ cups of sliced brussel sprouts
½ carrot in very small cubes
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
¼ cup of soy sauce
The juice of one lime
1 egg (optional)
2 + 1 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro (keep some for garnish)
One one-inch piece of fresh ginger sliced
One clove of garlic sliced

For the rice:
This can be done up to one day ahead. Wash the rice, once is enough; this is not starchy rice. Soak it for a couple of hours, this is not necessary but it will cut the cooking time (whole grain rice tends to take longer). To cook it, rinse the water, measure two cups of water, put it on the stove on high heat until it boils, lower the heat, and cover until all the water has been absorbed or evaporated.

For the vegetables:
Heat a wok or a large pan, add the oil. When the oil thins, add chili pepper, the onion and chopped carrots. When the onion turns translucent, add the sliced brussel sprouts and cook for a couple of minutes. The brussel sprouts should be crunchy, and a bright green. Don’t overcook them, they get gray and bitter. Put aside.

For the sauce:
Mix the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and lime. Some chili paste would be nice too, if you like it spicier.

Fry the ginger and garlic.
Make a thin egg omelet (a little bit of sugar in here works great). Roll it, and slice it thinly.
Roughly chop the cilantro. You’ll mix two tablespoons with the rice and reserve one for garnish.

To finish:
Heat the rice + veggies quickly, mix the two together carefully. Set aside from the heat, incorporate the sauce or dressing + two tablespoons of cilantro. Top with omelet, the fried garlic and ginger and the reserved cilantro!

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Here are a couple of pictures of us eating Vepřové koleno (or pork knee, yes knee!) in Prague.

The pork knee is served with horseradish, mustard, and bread, and you carve it yourself!(I'm glad I had a surgeon with me). Very 'Flinstones' I must say!

Did you know the Czech Republic is the country with the highest per capita consumption of beer? In the picture you can see how a beer was trying to consume me!

Overall the food was really good, but to be honest the BEST 'I-would-come-back-to-Prague-just-for-this' food, are the hot dogs at Wenceslas Square, so if you go to Prague do NOT miss them!


Last night I felt like cooking something different, and since I hadn’t posted in such a long time, I thought I would come up with something inventive, an ‘eat your dinner’ original recipe! I had about half a cup each of lentils and brown rice, and some onions and garlic, which sounded good already, and I used lots of cumin and curry to give it a nice smoky taste. Turns out, unknowingly, I made and Arab dish! So much for inventive! I ‘googled’ rice and lentils, and not only did I find out my recipe was quite faithful to the original, but I also found out it had a much better name that rice and lentils! Mujadrah! (Pronounced M-Jed'der-a). Anyway, this dish is really good, I highly recommend it. It is also vegetarian and very inexpensive. So here is it! Enjoy.


This recipe is good for two people, just double, triple if you have more people or are really hungry.

½ cup of French lentils
½ cup of brown rice
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 small bouillon cube
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of curry powder
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of water

Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil. Add the spices, the rice and the lentils. Cook for a couple of minutes, making sure everything is coated with the spices. Add the water and the bouillon cube. When the water starts to boil, turn the temperature down and cover. When all the water has been absorbed or evaporated your dish is ready! If either your rice or your lentils are still hard after all the water has been absorbed, this could happen if your grains have been in your cupboard for a long time, just add more and repeat the process until they are done (boil, lower temp, and cover).
I hope you enjoy this, we sure did!

* I just read this is the dish (pottage) that Jacob sold to his brother, Esau, in exchange for his birthright. Genesis 25:29. People make up all sorts of stuff!