No New Job

The new job has fallen through. The person who was leaving... isn't leaving.
So, life sucks.
And then you die.

New Job

The last 2 weeks have been about finding paid work. To date I've been doing "stages"; which are usually work-for-free-experience programs. The 2 that I've done since I finished cooking school actually did help build my C.V./resumé quite nicely.

So, on the job front, I wrote a cover letter and applied to the most interesting place I knew of; which is very close to where I live, has a clean modern kitchen, innovative cooking techniques, pretty good hours - - and damned if I didn't get the job. Amazing.
So far I am 3 for 3 in applying for cooking jobs. I've gotten every one I tried for. Although I suspect this is not normal.

I start Saturday at the new place. Tomorrow I'm celebrating by going out and buying a new chef's hat.

And then, also last week... I caught a virus and was messed up for 4-5- days (my throat more or less closed 90%). The throat's still not 100% but at least I can swallow now. That, and I can also fit into last years pants much easier - having lost a kilo or 2.

200th Post

Well imagine that! I've managed to make 200 posts in this here blog.
It started back in June of 2004 when I was in Paris. So that's an average roughly of 100 per year or 1 post every 4 days. Not bad.
Actually, it only really got rolling in January of 2005 so it's more like a year and a half - thus averaging a post every 3 days.
Some of them were even interesting; and it's been a great way to "remember" recipes of stuff I've thrown together (cooking-wise).
Anyways... this is just a simple post of self-congratulation for meeting the milestone.

Tabbulah / Tabouleh / Lebanese Salad

tabouleh 01092008119
I had the great pleasure to have been friends with Shokry Mohamed [& the same link auto-translated in English]. A wonderful Egyptian dancer and musician; who died last month - and who I'll miss. He introduced me to Egypt and I came to love the food of the Arab world too.

Last weekend I had a course in Arab Cuisine - with Fathy Sayed; Eygtian chef (and another friend of Shokry's). We made a number of things - among which was the Labanese salad known as Tabouleh (or tabouli, tabbouleh, tabbulah).

It's tasty, refreshing for summer - and healthy too.

The base is more or less couscous; the rest consists of tomato, parsley, mint (!!), dill, onion and assorted spices.


  • 1 c couscous (or use bulgar, or quinoa)
  • 1 1/4 c water, boiling (a little more for bulgar or much more for quinoa [2c])
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, brunoise (maybe 5)
  • 2 small onions (fresh, if you can get 'em) (fine brunoise)
  • 200 grams parsley (7 oz)
  • 100 grams mint (I use hierbabuena; spearmint) (3,5 oz)
  • 25 grams dill (fresh, preferably)
  • 1 t cumin (ground; fresh-ground would be good)
  • 1 t cinnamon (surprise!)
  • 2 t salt (don't be afraid - it's needed to balance the next ingredient)
  • 2 limes (juice of)
  • 100 g olive oil (extra virgin)
  • Pour boiling water over couscous, add 2 T oilve oil, stir, cover, wait (minimum 1/2 hour, better yet, make it 2 hours) If using quinoa you ought to rinse it first to eliminate its natural bitterness
Now comes the "hard work" part
  • Cut tomatoes into 1/4 (1/2 cm) cubes (brunoise)
  • Cut onions into 1/8" (1/4 cm) cubes (fine brunoise)
  • Chop parsley leafs very very fine (use one of those curved vegetable chopping knives)
  • Chop mint very very fine (we use hierbabuena which I believe would be "spearmint" in engish)
  • Chop dill very very fine
Back to the easy stuff
  • Drain couscous if it's not soaked up all the water (but it will have)
  • Add lime juice - stir
  • Add cumin, cinnamon & salt - stir
  • Add tomato, onions - stir
  • Add parsley, mint & dill - stir
  • Check for seasoning; taste it. There ought to be a slight taste of salt next to the lime flavor. See if you can detect a hint of cinnamon and that mysterious cumin flavor.
  • Add olive oil - stir

  1. Brunoise = diced = small cubes (but not canned diced tomatoes; you want good ragular little pieces with distinct sides). Nor do they have to be fanatically cubic; I end up with lots of trianglar pieces too. There is an art to getting them to be regularly sized.
  2. It's really a tomato and parsley salad with some other stuff added so make sure you have enough tomato in it - so that it's prominent
  3. The greens (dill, parsley, mint) are chopped super fine; that's an important trick. I've been told that it's so much work that Tabouleh is usually bought from shops or the greens are bought already chopped.
  4. Use a really sharp knife so that you're cutting the greens, not crushing them.
  5. Traditionally it's left to sit for a day before eating - to let the flavors blend. These days, in our "have it now" consumtion-oriented world that's less common
  6. Decorate, for presentation, with some more brunoised tomato
  7. Add (spear)mint to tea for a refreshing (Egyptian) taste (somewhat off topic, but still a good idea)
update: 13 junio - less cumin
update: 2008 - correct my misunderstanding about couscous being (not) pasta - it is. And to change the picture.

Fiesta de Tapas

Fiesta de Tapas en Las Rozas
Posted from Phone/Picasa/Hello

Was at the local Fiesta de Tapas on the weekend. A Spanish brewery sponsors it; getting a dozen or so local restaurants to participate; serving "tapas" (small plates) of bar food and beer; 1€ per beer or plate. A great way to eat cheap and varied - but due the scale of things and the masses of people (see above) not neccesarily the restaurant's/bar's best product.
Offerings ranged from croquettes to foie with fig sauce.

Hearts of Palm Crab Salad

Just decided, while in the market., to buy some hearts of palm (a jar [green giant], not raw. I've never seen them in their raw form). Got home and had to decide what to do with them. And it had better be good because it cost €3,60 for a 250 gram jar. Not to mention the price of crabmeat!

What I actually did:

  • 250 g Hearts of Palm (julienne)
  • 4 Tomatoes (julienned fine, only the "meat", no seeds)
  • 4 T Yogurt
  • 4 T White Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Large Splashes Habenero Sauce (or Jalipeño)[Louisiana style]
  • 1/2 t White Pepper

Stir & marinade 2 hours or so (to penetrate the hearts of palm with the hot sauce)

To Finish:
  • 1 small can crab meat (100 grams net weight) (real alaskan crab in this case, not the fake sticks)
  • Salt
Stir the crab gently into the palm hearts/tomato mix.

Serve: on a bed of julineed lettuce hearts
Serves: 6

  1. It's interesting that the texture of the hearts of palm reflects the texture of the crab meat.
  2. The casein protein in the yogurt is said to bind with the capsaicin alkaloid of the habarnero; neutralizing something of the heat sensation. Makes it "smoother" somehow.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Apparently we need more veggies around here. Monday I made some quick vegs to stash in the 'fridge.

  • Peas & (dried) parsley (and sea salt)
  • Green asparagus (now in season; thin ones) (pour boiling water over them and cover to cook/steam for 10 minutes)
  • Lemon corn (mini kernels [niblets] and added cajun lemon vegetable spices)
Today I'll be making Ginger Glazed Carrots

  • 1 jar baby carrots (I don't like cans and fresh babies aren't available; nor do I feel like tourne-ing a bunch of them)
  • 1 t salt (for the cooking water)
  • 2 T ginger, fresh ground (actually, use the microplane - don't bother peeling it) [or 1 t powdered)
  • 2 T butter (not margarine)
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Cook carrots in salted water (just covered) until just barely tender
  • Drain carrots, & get ready to transfer to the saute pan
  • Meanwhile
    • Put butter into sauté pan - on high heat
    • Sauté, browning slightly, until nutty
    • Add brown sugar, ginger and salt - lower heat
    • Disolve the sugar
    • Add the carrots
  • Saute to glaze the carrots
    • If the mix is thick add 1 T of water at a time until it's functioning as a glaze, not an icing
Done. Simple? ¿Yes?
Time: 20 minutes, tops

  1. I use a small (but not tiny) jar of carrots. The size of the jar determines the proportions of the rest of the ingredients. You can work it out - no problem.
  2. Powdered vs fresh ginger. Some say to substitute 1/8 t ground ginger (dry powdered) for 1 T fresh ground/minced ginger. That's too little in my opinion; I don't believe that dried ground ginger is 24 times as flavorful as fresh. This recipe uses an equivalent of 1/2 t per T.
  3. Update (later the same day): My butter/sugar/ginger mix had the sugar lump up quite badly rather than disolve so I had to discard the lumpiness before adding the carrots. Don't know why; might have been too little butter for too much sugar. Better luck next time.
  4. Some recipes like this one add a touch of nutmeg

'Julie and Julia': - New York Times Book Review

The link from back in October 2005 [subscription & may disappear at any time]

Apparently I've found the "Blog this" button in my browser (Firefox). That's why there so many new link entries. I use them as sort of bookmarks for myself.

Lemon Pepper Paprika Chicken

No photos. 1) 'cause it wasn't really pretty; 2) the phone-camera quality is sucky; 3) my regular camera is acting funky; 4) I need an excuse to buy a new one [not to mention money]

Simple as can be. I needed a bunch of food; veggie dishes on standby - and some protein. So I pop out to the greengrocer and pick up whatever he has that's durable and green (asparagus and artichokes) and then drift across the street to the fishmonger; but they're closed so I head into the butcher's instead. Notable is that there is not a single price in sight on any of the meat. This is a small town and I guess you have to chat/negotiate to find out the prices.

I wanted simple and fast so I got a kilo of chicken breasts (2 lb) and the butcher filleted them super fine. Thin enough for sandwiches for example. Got them home and did this...

Serves: 8 (or 6; or4 with teens in the house)


  • 1 kg chicken breast fillets (thin)
  • 3 T lemon pepper spices (Chef Hans'Louisiana type)
  • 1 T white pepper
  • 1 T paprika
  • 2 t salt
  • Lay out the fillets flat (not overlapping but you can scrunch them up together - no prob)
  • Sprinkle with lemon pepper spices on one side
  • Sprinkle same side with white pepper (be daring, double the amount)
  • Turn over onto roasting pan
  • Sprinkle second side with paprika (not the hot kind in this case)
  • Sprinkle side 2 with salt too
  • Bake in 180 C oven 10 minutes or so (leave them juicy and just barely done)
  • Remove from oven and turn over in the roasting pan to let them finish cooking.
  • I packaged the 1 kilo into 4 packs of 2 servings each (that would be 8 small servings of 125 gr [4 oz] each)
Done. Dead dead easy.

I would use a little more salt than you might (and more than I actually did). And, if you dare, use spicy paprika from Vera (Spain); I will next time. And they need something to make them brownish. I was thinking of tossing them on a hot grill to give them stripes before baking.

The Julie/Julia Project

The week seems to be book themed. Today I remembered about the Julie / Julia Project and the resultant book: Julie & Julia. It was a blog that I loved when it was new and still enjoy occasionally even though it's been retired.

Julie Powell was the first food blogger that broke through with a book deal. Well, good for her!

I know of 3 so far. I'm pretty certain I won't ever be on that list.

And! It's soon available in paperback [Sep 2006]

Update [ 7 junio]; She currently has a blog too.

Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate & Zucchini Book is Done

Reports have come in that Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate & Zuchinni fame (the blog) has completed the manuscript of her book. [She's one of those lucky bloggers that landed a book deal and quit her day job].

In the blog entry she says that it's scheduled for publication May 1, 2007. See: Book Update, Part V: Done!.

The publisher is/will be
Broadway Books (a division of Random House) but it's not yet listed on so I can't link to it. When it shows up I'll be putting it on my wishlist.

Template Changes (technical stuff)

For you Internet Explorer users out there I've changed the template of this here blog so that now you will see some stuff in the right hand margin (which used to appear empty to you unless you scrolled all the way tto the bottom of the page). Everything worked fine in Firefox (the smart choice for surfing the internet) but the Microsoft Explorer program had some problems handling a few things.

If you're interested in a less buggy and more safe & secure internet browser then you should ...

Get Firefox!

Kitchen Myths

There are a number of kitchen myths that merit debunking; and here are some at the Discovery Channel.

My favorite at the moment is the one about not being able to deep-fry in olive oil (because it smokes). The article referenced points out that the smoke point of good olive oil is 375F (190C) or better [some sources say that it's 410F) and that most deep frying takes place a temperatures lower than that. Logical isn't it? i.e. French fries are done at 175 C on their first pass and then finished at 190C.

Although the one about it not matter much if you get egg yolks into your separated egg whites is intriguing.

Old News (Noodles)

Oldest noodles unearthed in China (BBC)

This story dates back to October 2005 (B.C.).

The Professional Chef: Culinary Institute of America

It looks like there's going to be a new edition (the eighth) of the CIA classic: The Professional Chef - New Edition.

Amazon reports it as scheduled for August 28th.
I'll put it on my wish list.

Sales of the 7th edition will now drop like a stone.

Preparing Menus Ahead of Time

Before leaving for that 3 week vacation in Canada I figured I had better prepare some food for the folks at home; so they wouldn't starve without me around.
I made about 4 servings of each of the following and froze/packed them:

  • Salmon with Herbs (thyme)
  • Thai Chicken with Rice (peanut sauce)
  • Meatballs (Albondigas) with Paprika
  • Fusili al Pesto (basil and parsely)
  • Beef Bourguignon (wine)
  • Burrito meat (spicyish)
  • Artichoke Risotto (with mushrooms)
  • Chicken Pot Pie (the big pie plate sized ones)
  • Pisto (ratatouille)
I figured that would keep them healthy until I got back.

I should probably post some recipes and the comments that the dishes generated. (e.g. the beef bourg was a little tough, the salmon a tad dry, the thai chicken to die for etc etc)