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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cooking in French

While in Paris, Laura and I rented a studio apartment. And while we could have stayed at The Ritz or the George V, as wonderful as that would have been, spending a week in a studio apartment provides a more authentic sense of what makes Paris so special. Besides, an apartment would give me an opportunity to shop Paris’s famous markets and cook dinner.
© 2014 Chris Terrell
Our apartment was located at 10 rue Francois Miron in the Marais. The front windows looked onto a small square wedged between two imposing, yet classic, governmental buildings. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, it doubled as a market. The back window of our apartment looked onto the enclosed courtyard and the L’Eglise des Saints Gervais et Protais.

© 2014 Chris Terrell
That Wednesday morning, the square looked no different that it did the day before. In fact, it was still wet from Tuesday’s cool rain. Had I been misinformed? Then slowly, around 11:30am, a dozen or so tents began to sprout.  (Later, we discovered the Wednesday market is an afternoon market, so Parisians can shop on the way home from work.) By the time Laura and I had returned from a round of sightseeing and shopping, the market was in full stride. There were stalls selling vegetables, breads, cheeses, fruits, and flowers.

It was good for me that this was an afternoon market. We were having my dad and his significant other over for dinner, and I had not thought too hard about what to cook for dinner. In other words, I was a bit pressed for time.
© 2014 Chris Terrell
I grabbed a head of lettuce and radishes for a simple green salad; potatoes and leeks for a potato leek soup; and haricots vert. The Wednesday market does not sell poultry, meat, or seafood, so I had to go to the supermarket to grab some chicken and lemons for the chicken paillard; a baguette (of course); some dijon mustard; and cheeses, cornichons, and charcuterie. I had what I needed for dinner. And while I was gone, Laura put out the fresh tulips we had purchased at the market.

© 2014 Chris Terrell
Working hard on dinner. 
I quickly discovered that cooking that evening would be a bit of a challenge. There was no oven to speak of. I think we had a microwave that doubled as some kind of convection oven contraption. Any serious baking or roasting was out of the question. I wouldn’t be deterred, however. And it really didn’t matter—this would be a simple meal. 

I also didn’t have a food processor, immersion blender or, alas, a Vitamix to make a super smooth soup. Instead, I used the new knife I had purchased at E. Dehillerin earlier in the day to dice the potatoes and leeks in microscopic cubes and paper thin slices. Lots of salt and pepper and a little bit of cream and—voila!—I had ersatz potato leek soup!

© 2014 Chris Terrell
I sautéed some haricots vert to go with the chicken pail lard  along with shallots, butter, lemon juice, and white wine. For dessert, we had some very alcoholic sweets from a local candy store. In short, we were set for dinner in Paris.

© 2014 Chris Terrell
It was a mild evening, so we kept the windows open. Candles, flowers, jazz on the stereo, and the rhythmic sound of the Parisian police car completed the scene. At one point, I thought: “How Parisian!”  But it wasn’t really Parisian, any more than it was Italian, Spanish, American, or even Russian. We were doing what everyone likes to do: have a nice meal with loved ones and talk about the day. This time, the day just happened to have been in Paris.


  1. I think Butte pastry should get it's own post! I looked it up and it's actually Irish. It has a very interesting story associated with coal miners and the crust of the pie blocking their blackened fingers from the food. - http://www.pastrycraftseattle.com/blog/2011/01/21/savory-pies-irish-butte-pasties/