Pico de Gallo


Pico de Gallo is probably one of the easiest Mexican dishes to make. Considered to be a salad in and of itself, its three main ever-present ingredients are fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. But there are really as many variations on the Pico de Gallo theme as there are cooks wielding knives.

Pico de Gallo is also commonly, although mistakenly, called a salsa. When many people think of salsa, they are actually picturing Pico de Gallo. Salsa is the word for sauce in Spanish and salsa is much more of a thick spicy liquid than the chopped, chunky Pico de Gallo. Salsas also have many different flavors as they can be made with more variety of ingredients such as tomatoes, tomatillos, any variety of chilis, mango, or avocado as their primary base.

Pico de Gallo is a raw vegetable and fruit – since tomatoes are technically a fruit – dish and is very easy to prepare. All you need are the ingredients, a bowl, a cutting board, and a good knife.

For it to be a true Pico de Gallo, the ingredients must be fresh, no canned items or dried herbs! In El Norte, this may be something that is limited to the summer months because of the availability of fresh ingredients.


The Main Ingredients:
Ripe tomatoes, and if they are available, make them heirloom and organic for the flavor. Organic cherry tomatoes work well too.
Red onion
Sprigs of fresh cilantro

The Secondary Ingredients: All or Any
A clove or two of fresh garlic
A serrano or jalapeno pepper
Red and/or green bell pepper
The juice of a lime or two and if you can’t find a lime, a lemon will do
A splash of olive oil
A dash of salt

– Chop up the ingredients into small bits and put in the bowl. Mix. Done.
– Things do not have to be perfectly sized as Pico de Gallo is very chunky. When you chop the tomatoes, make sure to capture the juice and put it in the bowl as well. The heat in the jalapeno peppers lives in their seeds. Some people take out the seeds and some leave the seeds in, it’s up to you and how you like it.

– This dish is much more fun to make without a food processor.
– If red onions are too harsh for you when used raw, saute them for a moment to sweeten them up.

Other ingredients that also make Pico de Gallo yummy (but probably not all of these together):
Diced avocado, mango, or papaya.

What to do with Pico de Gallo?
– Open a bag of chips and dip right in.
Pico de Gallo tastes great topped on grilled chicken or fish. Use either cold, or saute very quickly to warm it up.
– Scramble into eggs, stuff into an omrlette with some jack cheese, or toss into/onto home fries.
– Salsa does like to be paired with sour cream.
– Toss into a green mixed salad with cooled grilled chicken (or just the green salad for you vegetarians).
– Stir into guacamole or a bowl of sour cream for a more creamy and cool dip.


Do you have a variation on Pico de Gallo that you love? Let us know about it in the comments.

Out Of The Archives:
Potage Parmentier


Why Parmentier?
A few potato dishes in France are named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737 – 1813) who is known as the promoter of using potatoes for something more than feeding the barnyard animals. Parmentier was a prisoner in Prussia during the Seven Years War and upon his return home to France in 1763 he could see that the French people were starving. In the 16th century it was a law in France that potatoes would not be used for human consumption as it was believed, mistakenly, that they caused leprosy and other diseases. But in the Prussian prison where Parmentier lived, they survived on potatoes, so on his return he set out to change the mindset, and the law, of the French people into accepting this tuber as the survival food that it is.

Potato and Leek Soup is a French staple and forms the base for a number of other recipes. It can be made hearty and thick, or thinned with cream or chicken stock. Serve it up with a warm crusty baguette smeared with butter for a filling meal in and of itself.

4-5 medium sized Russet Potatoes
1 Leek
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Salt to taste
Dried Basil
Dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 Clove Garlic
Butter, or, Butter and Olive Oil
Filtered Water
Milk – The kind of milk is up to you.

Optional Ingredients:
Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh Chives

Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
Chop the clove of garlic.

Get out your soup pot. A 3-quart pot would be big enough for this recipe.
Set the fire to low.
Add the butter.
As the butter melts, add the salt, black pepper, basil, and dried thyme.
Once the butter is melted, add the chopped potatoes.
Stir to cover the potatoes with the melted butter and herbs.
Saute for a few minutes.
Add the chopped garlic.
Add the bay leaf.
If the potatoes start to stick to the pan, add a little water and stir.
Then cover the potatoes with filtered water and simmer.

Simmer the potatoes for about 45 minutes.

Take the leek and slice down the middle, then turn it halfway and slice it down the middle again. Then slice the leek into thin slices.
Put it in a colander or a strainer and rinse well to get out the dirt.
Get out a saucepan.
Set another fire on the stove to low.
Add some butter.
Saute the leeks until they are tender.
Add spoonfuls of broth from the soup when needed to keep the leeks from burning.

When the leeks are limp, add them to the potatoes.
Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Add some milk/cream.

If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree half the soup.

Ladle this hearty and thick soup up into bowls, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and some chopped chives.

Bon Appetit!

Note About Potatoes:
There is a reason why a soup would call for a Russet potato rather than just any potato. Russets are starchy and will fall apart when they are cooked – especially when they are over cooked in a soup. This does two things – it spreads the potato flavor through out the soup, and it also serves as a natural thickener. By using Russet potato and cream in this soup, you can bypass making a roux.

Find more information on Antoine-Augustin Parmentier on Wikipedia.

Out Of The Archives:
Mafé Poulet

Paris is a maze of many cultures and many of those cultures come from West Africa. Walking through the lively streets of Bellevue, you may begin to wonder if you took a left turn and ended up Brazzaville. Mafe Poulet can be found on just about any menu in any West African restaurant in the city, like Paris Dakar or Ile de Gorée and its variations are as plentiful as the chefs that make it. It’s a hearty African dish that is both earthy and sensuous at the same time, and simple to make.

West African Chicken with Peanut Sauce/Stew


1 Chicken(or equal amount of parts de-skinned)
2 large yellow onions
4-5 fresh big round tomatoes
1-3 Tbs. peanut butter
1-2 jalapeno or a pinch of crushed red pepper


A big stew pot
A cutting board
A good knife
A big spoon for stirring the pot!


Cut the chicken into parts, de-skin. Slice the 2 onions on the ring. Cut the tomatoes on the quarter. Finely chop the jalapeno pepper, or get red pepper flakes (to your taste).

Sear the chicken by putting it in a soup pot with no oil, turning when it turns white.
Add the onions to the pot after both sides of the chicken have been seared.
When the onions are clear, add the tomatoes to the pot.

Cover and simner.

When the tomatoes have released all of their liquid and the chicken is cooked through, add the peanutbutter one tablespoon at a time to taste. If the tomatoes did not release much liquid, add a little water or chicken broth.

Add the chopped pepper.
Cook until flavors are blended.
Serve over rice.

To make a smaller version of this dish use (pictured above): 1-2 chicken breasts (sliced), 1 yellow onion, 2 large tomatoes (Heirloom are yummy if you can get them), half a jalapeno, one clove garlic. This makes enough for two people. Leave out the chicken for a vegetarian sauce over rice.

Country of Origin: West Africa (Senegal to The Congo)


Sauté the chicken in peanut oil.
Add a clove or two of chopped garlic.
Add coconut milk at the same time as the peanutbutter.

Make a vegetarian version by leaving out the chicken. Just sauté the onions in peanut oil, add the tomatoes and follow the directions from there.

This dish is really great when made with organic ingredients.

Out Of The Archives:
Zucchini Provencal


Zucchini Provencal in my kitchen

One way to use the end of abundant summer growing season vegetables – tomatoes and zucchini – is to make this simple side dish, Zucchini Provencal. French home cooks tend to cook zucchini until it is almost mushy. So feel free to experiment with the cooking time, and make it to your taste and preference.

1 onion
2-3 medium sized zucchini
2 tomatoes
dried basil
ground pepper
olive oil

Chop all of the vegetables in large chunks.
In a saute pan, heat some olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add some ground pepper and dried basil.
When the oil is hot, add the chopped onions.
Saute the onions until they start to clear.
Add the zucchini and stir.
Add the tomatoes and stir.
Saute until the tomatoes release their juice, the onions have become clear and the zucchini is soft the whole way through.

Serve hot as a side dish or a big bowl of it for a meal. It goes great with a big chunk of fresh baguette smeared with butter. I’ve also used it as a filling for a savory galette with parmesan cheese.

Et Voila!

Bon Appetit!