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dinner – La Gourmandista

Cooking in progress...

Etiqueta: dinner

Chilaquiles with Chicken and Salsa Verde

In the past I have already written around here about chilaquiles, how much I like them, and how my dad used to prepare them for me and my sister as children. They would pamper our souls. Today, even when some would think this is the easiest recipe or that one wouldn’t even need one, I share it because a friend from far away lands asked me for it. I am guessing she wants to pamper her family members as well with a little Mexican bite. For me, chilaquiles are something that can be prepared for any meal. We at home, however, will prepare them for a weekend breakfast or brunch 90% of the time. But I could honestly eat them every day any time of day.

Now, I don’t like them extra spicy, so, if you do, be sure to add more chili peppers than the ones I’m suggesting. I am sure many will think this is not spicy at all, but hey, don’t judge. We all like and tolerate different levels of spiciness in our foods.

I’ve also got to mention that this is a version I hope anyone can prepare anywhere in the world as easily as possible. So, please read the tips at the end of the recipe. You’ll see some very useful hacks.

Lastly, I like salsa verde a lot, but if tomatillos aren’t available where you’re located, you can always do a salsa roja using tomatoes. I dare to say that during this time of the year it might even be more attractive. It’s at peak season.

Chilaquiles with Chicken and Salsa Verde

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. With a fried egg or some carne asada and refried beans on the side. I bet you all my allowance that it will conquer anyone's taste buds.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Baking sheet
  • Blender
  • Pot with lid
  • Turner or Rigid Spatula
  • Kitchen Spoon

For the salsa verde:

  • 600 g tomatillo
  • 2 fresh serrano peppers ((if unavailable, you may use jalapeños or even thai chilis, just beware of their different level of spiciness))
  • 1 onion (cut in 4)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • Salt
  • 50 g olive oil

For the chilaquiles:

  • 12 corn tortillas (cut in squares or triangles (it's even better to leave them the night before getting dry on your kitchen counter after you cut them))
  • 1 chicken breast (cooked and shredded)
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • 120 g crème fraîche or Mexican crema
  • 200 g shredded mozzarella cheese (to melt)
  • Frying oil
  • sea salt (to season)

To Decorate:

  • 1/2 onion (cut in rings)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 100 g cotija, fresco, or feta cheese

Prepare the salsa:

  1. In a baking sheet set your tomatillos, onion, peppers, and garlic cloves. Drizzle the olive oil and add a pinch of salt.

  2. Roast in a preheated oven at 200 °C or 400 °F. Be careful so nothing gets burnt. Take ingredients out of the oven as they get roasted. First, I take out the garlic cloves. A few minutes later the serrano peppers, and lastly the onion and tomatillos. I will leave the lot about 40 minutes in total.

  3. Pour everything in the blender. Add the cilantro and blend everything. Be sure the sauce is smooth. Verify your seasoning with a bit of salt f you need to.

Prepare the chilaquiles:

  1. In a big enough pot, fry the tortilla triangles or squares to make chips. I suggest you do this little by little so that all your chips are crispy and not soggy. Let them dry on a paper towel. Repeat this step until all your tortilla chips are crispy.

  2. Sauté the onion. Add a pinch of salt. Whenever the onion is transparent, add the salsa verde and let it cook for a moment.

  3. Add the chicken and the tortilla chips. Mix it well to incorporate everything making sure everything is well covered with the salsa.

  4. Add the crema or crème fraîche and the cheese on top. Let it melt for a few minutes at a very low heat.

Serve the chilaquiles:

  1. Serve and decorate with some fresh onion rings, a little feta, cotija, or queso fresco (whatever you have at hand), and a little freshly and finely chopped cilantro.

  • I normally serve chilaquiles with a fried egg and some refried beans if I’m serving them for breakfast or brunch. At lunchtime, I will serve some carne asada and cactus salad on the side. 
  • If I’m being a little lazy to prepare the fried tortilla chips, I just buy them from the store. 
  • And if you want to open a jar or can of salsa… that’s fair as well. Just be sure to adjust seasoning, and if it’s necessary, add some freshly and finely chopped cilantro. Don’t hesitate. It’ll make it way better. If the cilantro you add dries out a bit the salsa, add a little chicken stock, veggie stock, or even water to arrive to the desired texture.
Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Side Dish
chilaquiles, Mexican Comfort Food, Mexican food, tortilla

Recipe : Fresh salmon carpaccio

Having fish for breakfast was something I never thought I would do. As a child, it was not only weird, but I was repulsed by it, and since no one in my family had it, let’s just say it was easier to ignore when offered. Then, one day I went to one of those pompous ‘brunches’ for some festivity. I guess I must have grown up; I had become an adult. I can’t explain what happened. The smoked salmon tray suddenly seemed appealing to me at 10:30 AM. The way it was offered in this restaurant was quite traditional, nothing very creative, however, the idea started to make sense in my head. As the years passed by and I started acquiring my own manias, I began experimenting with it at home. It suddenly became part of the weekend breakfast menus, an appetizer at lunch time, and even an option for a light dinner during the summer. It’s something simple and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Salmon Carpaccio

Simple and super nutritious. It is prepared in a jiffy and it can be served practically at any time of day.

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Lemon Juicer
  • 200 g smoked salmon (preferable wild)
  • ½ onion (finely diced)
  • ½ bunch chives (finely chopped)
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill (finely chopped)
  • 1 dash Olive or avocado oil
  • 1 Lemon (juice)
  • Salt & Pepper to season
  • 6-8 slices Ryvita or Wasa Crispbread (or toast)
  • 100 g Cream cheese
  • ½ avocado (optional)
  1. In a serving platter, arrange the finely sliced smoked salmon in one layer and top with the finely diced onion, the finely chopped chives, and a bit of the dill leaves.

  2. Drizzle the lemon juice and a little olive oil, however, should you feel the flavor of the olive oil is too strong, try with grapeseed oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and let marinate for 5 minutes.
  4. Once at the table, serve it with or on top of Ryvita, Wasa or toast with smeared cream cheese.
  5. Sometimes I add a little avocado.
Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Starter
breakfast, brunch, carpaccio, dinner, homey, lockdown2020, salmón, starter

A Gem Found in Boulogne-Billancourt : Plantxa

Part of my culinary adventure and discovery of fine-dining cuisine included classes which I can classify as exceptional, since I think it is only in this environment where they are possible. Every other week we cross our fingers hoping that our mid-afternoon schedule is clear, since the school hosts a Guest Chef who comes to teach a class. It is a full two hour lecture with someone who not only works as the head chef of a brigade, but also has had an amazing trajectory, and who, with a bit of luck, even has a few stars in his/her arsenal.

I would have loved to attend more than the ones I actually had the chance to see, but I know I that I sat in on as many as was humanly possible. And I think the one with Juan Arbelaez is probably one of those that I will remember having left a good taste in my mouth.

The guest cook arrives to the session and literally performs a show. There are some who share something they prepare in their own kitchens and following them throughout becomes a small odyssey, given that they arrive with half their preparations ready and the class is taught in Fast Forward mode, just as if one were in a program aired by the Food Network or the Argentinean There are others who actually go and teach before the stove and share their pearls of wisdom while they prepare something simple like a soup that they then turn into a sauce or a gélée, or something of the sort. Yet, Juan had the students totally captivated for quite a simple reason: he, unlike any other guest chef who comes to school, is Latin American; Colombian to be exact. Also, he is an alumnus. His career path has resembled something that many young cooks long for, and despite it all, in less than 10 years, he has already had a great amount of accomplishments and awards which have even taken him to the popular television program TopChef in France, to regular appearances in the local news channels, and I even – if I recall correctly – recently appeared in an article in the paper where his name comes up as one of the talented chefs who will present their work at the second edition of the Taste of Paris festival which will take place in February.

After having witnessed Juan’s demonstration, we found the ffirst excuse possible so we could go to Plantxa, the restaurant Juan opened with his business partner and friend, Pablo Naranjo. There, they have reinvented everything, down to the hamburger. The place is right in the middle of the same suburb one can find the Roland Garros stadium. Therefore, as can be imagined, the clientele is demanding.

We reserved a table because we were a large party. We were celebrating a birthday, and the only condition for us to get in was that we would need to adjust ourselves to the Chef’s Choice of the Day, avoiding the menu. We were more than 10 cuisine apprentices who were all satisfied, happy, and even surprised with what we had been served, since the kitchen is physically pretty small, and the brigade can be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. For that reason, I think that Plantxa is another place well worth discovering – and even when it is on the outskirts of the city, it can still be reached by metro.

Address: 58 Rue Gallieni, 92100 Boulogne – Billancourt
Subway Station: Marcel Sembat
Phone Number:  +33 (0) 1 4620 5093

Any Given Parisian Sunday

Discovering new places in this city may be easy, since it is only necessary to allow oneself to walk down a street, avenue, or even an alley dating back to the Middle Ages and dare to enter a place you’ve never seen before. I can’t really explain it, but there are places that you can tell, even from a distance, they have catastrophe written all over them, others which, in spite of their appearance, I never felt attracted to, and only dared to enter for the sake of courage or because they had been recommended to me by a reliable source – even when despite said recommendation I ended up wanting to run out. Then there are those places where one feels invited to enter just by looking at them, and last, of course, there are those that look so beautiful that one gets scared of even setting foot into, and where you’re required to take out a second mortgage on your house when the bill arrives.

Right by the Latin Quarter at the exit of the Odéon metro station there is a little alley that is over 500 years old. Here, you can find a Chinese man selling jewelry, a restaurant I have heard is good, but given it’s rather unhygienic appearance never attracted my attention in the least, and there is another place which seems to give away chocolates rather than selling them, since it’s always jam-packed and is impossible to get into. I tried to get a table twice, maybe even three times, but never succeeded. I never got to know why it was so popular, since it seemed to be of a certain price. I assumed it was one of those places that you “simply couldn’t miss because it’s so exceptional” which seem to be hiding all around the city.

With time, and a little bit of learning, I was lucky enough to not only know, but also to study under the Chef de Cuisine who opened the place. The owner is the maître chocolatier Pierre Clauziel, who, according to what I’ve read, still considers Sundays sacred. He thus created a place where all of our chocolatey dreams get together… Ok, so that’s my personal interpretation of the aim of our chocolate master. In fact, he actually calls this place a Concept Store, since one can find in it a chocolate boutique, a chocolate bar, a restaurant, and even culinary workshops. But, just between you and me, I would consider this place to be a marvelous restaurant with a chocolate boutique next to it, plain and simple. Admittedly, however, I didn’t walk through the entire place, and as it would be expected, the place is still very special, for every dish served in the restaurant contains cocoa or chocolate in some form.

For this man, sharing joy is giving a bit of his time, discovering, tasting, licking his fingers, laughing, learning the language of chocolate and writing poems with it. Therefore, my dear reader, you can conclude from these lines, that the place is simply unique.

Finally, we were able to get a table in the middle of the week, and not on the day the Lord rested – ha! We went with some guests worthy of such pampering. The service was amazing, and the food was quite an adventure – and yes, I found chocolate and/or cocoa from beginning to end. Now, I could spend the next five lines listing everything we ate and had a chance to taste together with our guests, however, I think the best would be to say that this place is worth making time for, whether it’s a Sunday, or a Wednesday. If you find yourselves in the City of Lights, give yourselves the chance to stop by Un Dimanche à Paris and let yourselves be captivated by the young Chef Jean-Pierre Jullien and the marvelous chocolate of master Clauziel.

Some of the delicacies served throughout the night

Address: 4 Cours du Commerce Saint-André, 75006 Paris

Subway Station: Odéon

Phone Number: +33 (0)1 5681 1818

The Forgotten Dessert

I remembered counting 10 courses, and then, after doing my recount in this corner of mine, they didn’t add up. I thought I would probably had miscounted, so, the post was published. I felt extremely honored for seeing clicks here and there from various parts of the world. I also felt very happy for my fellow cooks, I liked people reading about their creations. Then, one of them ironically thanked me for not mentioning his dessert. Honestly, I thought something like “F#%$, yes… that was the one I forgot. And I was right, there were ten! I promised to sit down and write about it, and then I thought about this dish when it was served to me. Yes, I liked it. Yes, I enjoyed it. Yes, the dish and its flavors worked very well for me. Yet, there was something I remembered I didn’t quite enjoy about. But, what was it?

I stared at the picture for maybe a minute or so. It all came back. For those who are not fans of high sugar intake this would probably be the best end of a meal. It is acidic, with a note of freshness, a bit creamy, and not really chocolatey. It had it all. However, for I have become a more demanding foodie lately, I thought this was a dessert which wanted to take a risk, and mid-preparation the pastry chef was shy. Maybe because it was a first attempt. I would have gone wilder on the reduction of the balsamic vinegar, and made it stronger on the basil in the cream. But, that’s the “gourmande” me speaking.

I have to say this was the first dessert of the evening, and which I was able to have thanks to the “Tour Normande” we were served in between the meal and the sweets of the evening. I think it was a nice and subtle introduction to the sugar table.

I think I’ll try to imitate it (my way, obviously), tonight at home.

In the meantime, Bon Appétit, dear friends!