Sunday, November 25, 2007


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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