Refreshing Mexican; Food Writing; Dining in Paris;

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Clifford Wright is the author of "Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's ABC of Vegetables and Their Preparation" Harvard Common Press.

Lebanese Chicken Kabobs
(adapted from Cliff Wright)

Boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 cubes
wood skewers

olive oil
lemon juice
grated onion
dried thyme

Slide the chicken cubes onto the wood skewers.

Marinade the chicken in the frig for about 3 hours, not longer than 6 hours.

Grill until cooked. Garnish with plain yogurt or yogurt mixed with chopped garlic and chopped cucumber.

Griddled Eggplant
(adapted from Cliff Wright)

Slice peeled eggplant to 1/4 inch thick
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and let the water leech out for about 15 minutes. Rinse off salt.
Marinade eggplant in a mixture of vinegar, olive oil, caraway, salt and pepper for 30 minutes to an hour.

Grill or griddle fry them on a cast iron griddle.

Middle Eastern Spice Mix - Baharat

1/2 cup black peppercorns
1/4 cup allspice berries
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Grind peppercorns and allspice together and blend with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Store the spice mix in a jar in your spice rack, away from sunlight. It will lose pungency as time goes by but, properly stored, it can be good for many months. Add other spices for your own variation, like paprika, coriander seeds, cassia bark, sumac or cardamom.


Patricia Wells is the author of "The Paris Cookbook" published by Harper Collins. You can find out about her cooking classes in France and her Paris restaurant recommendations at

Sorrel Sauce

3 ounces fresh sorrel leaves, trimmed and stemmed
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
1 cup grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sorrel, egg yolks, lemon juice, and sea salt. Pulse until well blended. With the motor running, very slowly add several tablespoons of the oil, processing until the mixture thickens. With the motor still running, add the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a small bowl. The sauce can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Slow-Roasted Salmon

1 pound fresh salmon fillet, skinned
Several teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
Sorrel Sauce

4 servings as a main course

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
2. Run your fingers over the top of the salmon fillet to detect any tiny bones that remain. Use tweezers to remove them. Cut the salmon into four equal pieces.
3. Place the salmon in an ovenproof dish that will hold the fish snugly. Using a pastry brush, brush the salmon on all sides with the oil. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and roast until the fish is a bright pinkish orange and flakes easily, 17 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, and trim off and discard any white, milky portions or darkened edges around the fish. Using a wide spatula, transfer the fish to a small rack set on top of a plate, and allow it to drain.
4. Serve at room temperature (never hot or cold or it will lose its essence), with the Sorrel Sauce.

The Apple Lady's Apple Cake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup whole milk
4 baking apples (about 2 pounds total) cored, peeled, and cut into thin wedges

1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

A 9-inch springform pan

8 Servings

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and set it aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt, and stir to blend. Add the vanilla extract, eggs, oil, and milk, and stir until well blended. Add the apples and stir to thoroughly coat them with the batter.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until fairly firm and golden, about 25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, egg, and melted butter, and stir to blend. Set it aside.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping mixture over it. Return the cake to the oven and bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels quite firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 10 minutes.
7. Transfer the cake pan to a rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the sides of the pan, and release and remove the springform side, leaving the cake on the pan base. Serve at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.


Karen Eng is the editor of PekoPeko a 'zine (hand-printed magazines) devoted to food. You can purchase PekoPeko at Giant Robot on Sawtelle Blvd in West Los Angeles. Find out more at


Nancy Zaslavsky is the author of many books on Mexican food including "A Cook's Tour of Mexico" and "Meatless Mexican Home Cooking". To find out about her tours, email or call 310-440-8877.

Picard-a, Cool and Crunchy J-cama and Mint Salsa
Yield: 2 cups

1 j-cama, about 5-inches in diameter
4 limes
3 serrano or jalape-o chiles
1/4 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 grinds of black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Peel and finely chop the j-cama and put it in a bowl.

2. Squeeze the limes through a strainer over the j-cama.

3. Stem and finely chop the chiles. Do not seed. Chop the mint. Mix into the j-cama and lime juice. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Chill.

Variation: Combine the salsa with 2 cups Mexican crema, or yogurt, for a creamy counterbalance to spicy dishes.

Ensalada de Lentejas y Elotes, Lentil and Corn Salad
Yield: 8 servings

6 ears of summer corn, leaves attached
1 cup sprouted lentils
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped, stemmed serrano or jalape-o chile, (or more, to taste)

1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 grinds black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup mixed, chopped summer herbs such as hierba buena (mint), hierba santa, epazote, cilantro, flat leaf parsley

1. Remove 8 of the largest, best-looking leaves from the corn ears. Wash, dry and trim 1-inch off the wide half. Trim off any brown tips and reserve the leaves for garnish, wrap in paper towels then plastic and refrigerate.

2. With a heavy knife, scrape the corn kernels off the cobs directly into a large bowl. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the corn kernels and the lentils. Boil one minute. Immediately drain the corn and lentils then run under cold water. Drain-dry. Combine in a bowl with the chopped onion and chile, and refrigerate.

3. Prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together the mustard, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk in the oil and lime juice.

4. When the corn mixture is cold, stir in the herbs and vinaigrette. Lay a fresh corn leaf, with edges curled inwards, on each of 8 plates. Spoon some of the corn-lentil mixture on each leaf.

Agua de Hoja de Lim-n, Lime Leaf Cooler
Yield: 2 quarts

2 cups packed Mexican lime (Keylime) leaves from unsprayed trees
8 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

1. Wash the leaves carefully. Stuff all the leaves and 2 cups of the water into a blender container.

2. Blend well. Let the leaves infuse the water for at least one hour. Carefully strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large pitcher. Add the remaining water and sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar completely. (hint: bartender-s quick dissolving sugar works great).

3. Chill. Pour over ice in glasses.

For a dramatic presentation, place a small sprig of leaves with a few flowers still attached to the rim of each glass before serving.

For an alcoholic party drink, add one jigger white (clear) tequila to each glass.