Swiss Chard | egg & dart blog
Food & Recipes, Petit Menu

Petit Menu: Cod with Rainbow Swiss Chard & Parsnip

Swiss Chard | egg & dart blog

Élie’s Mamette came to visit us this weekend and she came bearing gifts. His first set of Duplo blocks for Élie and a huge bundle of rainbow swiss chard for us – fresh from her garden. This is a rare treasure in France! I have seen rainbow swiss chard here but only a handful of times and it was planted among the flowers at traffic circles and in town centers in some of the composed plantings France sprinkles throughout its towns. I can’t deny its visual appeal but if they planted it in the big pots decorating our town’s center they might find themselves with a chard burglar problem.

I’m lucky though: I gained a mother-in-law through marriage who not only loves to garden, she loves to discover new-to-her fruit and vegetable varieties. So she grows many things I’ve asked her to try, things that are hard to find here like tomatillos, butternut and delicata squashes, and swiss chard. She’s had a lot of successes but we could argue that the latter has been the most generous. In this region of more temperate winters than I am used to in Maine, the chard reseeds itself season after season and is quite determined in the face of the little French critters that try to have it all to themselves. And so I am a very lucky girl with a lot of swiss chard.

Swiss Chard | egg & dart blog

It won’t come as any surprise that one of the things I adore about having a baby is introducing our little one to new tastes and foods. My philosophy is simple: I wouldn’t give him anything I wouldn’t like to eat. I don’t think babies are born with wildly different palettes from an adult’s and just like art, music, books, travel: the more you try, the more color your world has. So if he is interested in something on our plates, I don’t hesitate to give Élie a taste (of course, things that are beyond his chewing capacity have to wait a little longer). And I love how curious about food he is!

Over the months, I’ve come up with a couple different mixes that I’m really excited about and Élie enjoys. Just like for our plates, I cook pretty seasonally for the little one. So I’m looking forward to sharing some of the recipes I’ve come up with as well as some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

And here is where my mother-in-law’s bounty of swiss chard comes in, the first recipe I’m sharing for the Petit Menu created just yesterday when I spotted those green leaves: Cod with Rainbow Swiss Chard & Parsnips. With a splash of coconut milk and a sprinkle of lemon zest, it’s light, fresh, and a bit sweet. It has been disappearing from Élie’s little bowl pretty successfully, too.

Cod with Swiss Chard and Parsnip for Baby | egg & dart blog Swiss Chard | egg & dart blog

Petit Menu

Cod with Rainbow Swiss Chard & Parsnips

– 80 g piece of fresh cod, cut into cubes

– 100 g rainbow swiss chard, leaves and stems roughly chopped

– 1 medium parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped

– 1 1/2  tbsp. coconut milk

– zest of 1/4 of an organic lemon

Steam the parsnips, chard, and cod together (level 3 of water if using a Babycook). When the parsnips are tender, blend the fish and vegetables with the coconut milk, lemon zest, and enough of the cooking water to get the consistency you prefer. Serve and enjoy!

Cod with Swiss Chard and Parsnip for Baby | egg & dart blogxo,

A. & É.

Life, Loving, Uncategorized

Christmas Tree Anticipation and a Loving List

Christmas Decoration | egg & dart

2011 sapin de Noël

Word on the street the texts I keep sending to R. is that tonight is get-a-Christmas-tree-or-else night! Here in France the most common way to set up you tree is with the trunk fitted into a whole drilled in a halved log. This is hard for a Maine girl who most of the time cut her own tree from farms to swallow. It means that the tree dries out much faster (or fossilizes as my mom calls it) and we both love having the tree up through January if we can. So I had this idea that buying the tree sooner would mean a fresher tree that would be more able to suck up water for a good long time. We didn’t make it to the garden center last weekend but I really want to get there tonight and then I’ll test that tree freshness theory out. I bet you already have you tree, don’t you?


Here’s some things I loved this week:

  • I love reading posts by E who writes so well and with such funny honesty. Her latest post where in her little EE meets the doctor and the mall Santa in the same day with unexpected mixed results cracked me up!
  • I really, really, really want to get my box-loving cat one of these for Christmas. Could I ever get him out? I’d have to tempt him with a ball of brown paper or by pulling a tissue from a box, both of which have his complete and devoted attention. (Blowing your nose at our house must be awkward for guests. Sorry guests.)
  • The pretty Griottes blog posted a list of wonderful boutiques in Paris to find treasures. Virtual windowing shopping anyone?
  • In the past two weeks I’ve stumbled upon some incredible food blogs. One of them is farmette and her Juniper Junket recipe had me at ‘juniper’. I can’t wait to try it or her Sh’mores but I’m sure to be spending plenty of time in the future getting lost in her archives because her posts feel like sitting in a warm country kitchen with a friend.
  • Then there’s the French country kitchen, Manger. Just click that link. (Oh my gosh! A Scottie in a brocante!!)

I would like holiday cards, hot chocolate, Muppet Christmas Carol, decorating, Christmas music, and gift wrapping to be on the menu for this weekend, please. What have you got planned? If you’re near Boston, MA, you must stop in at one of Aran’s events!



Food & Recipes, Life, Paris

Marché Photo of the Week and A walk along the Marne

Hello! Happy Monday. Yesterday proved to be the announcer of a week of Indian summer* here in Paris. The days are balmy (even hot this afternoon) and the sun has returned from its two weeks of hiding. I am starting to forget what season it is completely.

When we headed to the marché yesterday, my menu for the week had been constructed as the first of the year to truly start to embrace autumn. But when we got to our spot in line at our favorite stand, I spied an avalanche of eggplants, yellow peppers, zucchinis. “Summer isn’t over.” I said to R.

Not wanting to miss out on any chance to enjoy the end of the season’s bounty, I quickly reworked my whole plan while waiting for my turn. It was a busy hive behind the tables – the workers running back and forth grabbing green beans, holding up slices of squash “This size?”, reaching for sweet ‘fontaine’ onions – but one of the regulars caught my eye. “I have them!” she called to me, but I had forgotten. “The tomatoes!” she responded to my puzzled look. I had asked for them to bring me truly green tomatoes at the last market. One more meal was quickly scribbled and rewritten on my list.

potimarron (red kuri) squash

– eggs

– tamaris tomatoes

– yellow peppers

– onions

– green tamaris tomatoes

– shelling beans

– a Swiss hard cheese, cooked in wood smoke (we forgot the name!)

– eggplants

– romaine lettuces

– chervil

– leek

– celery

– samba potatoes

– ‘master’ bread

On the Menu:

Gnocchi & Roasted Tomato Sauce – Herb & Milk Poached Chicken with Roast Pumpkin – Chervil & Smoky Cheese Soufflés and Salad


We just couldn’t stay inside with our original plans of shopping in Chinatown when we realized how very beautiful the day would be yesterday. So we ditched those plans, grabbed some bikes, and cycled out of the city to discover the paths along the Marne River. I was so excited when I found a tree that had burst into color. Exactly what I was craving that weekend but didn’t think I’d see. Here’s a little bit of what we discovered. (If only I could take pictures and peddle at the same time!)


And just because I love him:



* The French call North American’s vibrant showing of autumnal color “Indian Summer” which I always thought was funny because, for us, an Indian summer is a period of unusual warmth in the autumn or early winter and has nothing to do with foliage. One day I got into a conversation with some French friends and a German friend about the term and, when we looked it up, we discovered its meaning hasn’t always been clear. So I’d love to know, what is Indian summer to you?

Food & Recipes, Paris

Marché Photo of the Week

It’s finally fully taken hold and Fall in the marchés. The stalls are filling up with squash and apples and the last tomatoes. I was excited to find one of my farmers with a whole pile of butternut squash (a rarity, still haven’t found acorn squash that wasn’t being sold as decoration from a florist shop.) and spotted a few green tomatoes which I had a hard time getting them to put in my bag. I love green tomatoes, especially for this, but I don’t think the French have figured out what to do with green tomatoes yet because they can’t seem to believe I’d want them! In the end, I could only get some that were partially green. Maybe next week! So here’s what we picked up and which is adding some Autumn to our menu this week:

-land cress

– basil

-red onions

– sweet red peppers

– butternut squash!

– bleu d’Auvergne (a mild bleu recommended for those, like me, who didn’t like blue cheese)

– cucumber

– green-ish heirloom tomatoes

– Reinette apples

– sage

– campari tomatoes

– eggplants

– sorrel


– ‘master’ bread

And here are a few meals those goodies will go into:

Cress salad with Turkey Breast, Roasted plums, and Bleu – Macaroni & Cheese with Butternut Squash and Sage – Lemon  Eggplant Soup

I’ll also be using some things to stock up on summer flavor for the winter, like the basil to make pesto to freeze.


Last weekend was very busy and included a wonderful visit with a high school friend of mine and one of the famous boat rides up the Seine to see Paris by night. I may not be in love with Paris, but seeing it from this unusual perspective, I can see how I could love it. Time will tell!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new favorite recipe for cooler weekend mornings!



Art, Food & Recipes, Life, Paris

Marché Photo of the Week

Everyone was so happy at the marché this weekend! One of those visits when you think “This is why I love coming to this marché.” You see, we don’t go to the easiest market to get to. There is one just a block up the boulevard and another just past the grocery store that both stretch on for ages. And they are fine but we once went to the marché just on the other side of the périphérique, the boundary between Paris and suburb which, after all, is very close to your apartment, and it hooked us. There we found our vegetable guy who is the farmer himself. There is my herb lady who always has the best herbs and micro and baby greens and the other farmer who has the heirloom varieties and the different colors of carrots, radishes, and tomatoes. The Italian stand with the pancetta with bits of peppercorn throughout and the baker and family with the best bread we have found in the whole city. Now we go every weekend we can and always come home saying how strange it is to go 10 minutes and be in what feels like a smaller village, not Paris. Here’s what we got this week:

– Cresson de Terre (Perhaps American or Land Cress in English? Anyone know?)

– Unpasteurized Buffalo Mozzerella

– Beets

– Celery

– Little Yellow Onions

– Cucumber

– Zucchini

– Eggplant

– Campari Tomatoes

– Sage

– Red and Green Sweet Peppers

– ‘Master’ Bread

– Thyme

– Felino Sausage

– Mint

And here are some of the dishes all that will go into:

Eggplant & Tomato Tartines with Mozzarella – Lieu sur Lit de Cresson – Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Manchago & Herbed Croutons


The weekend was as beautiful as the weather people predicted and we tried to take advantage of Paris Design Week and Les Journées du Patrimoine as much as we could. I loved these colorful ladies we found on a back wall near Arts et Métiers.

How was your weekend? And what is on your menu this week?



Food & Recipes, Life

Marché Photo of the Week

Summer’s marchés are hard to resist. Of course, fall and winter, and even spring offer favorite fruits, vegetables, and even cheese that we covet when they arrive, but summer is seductive for it’s sheer variety of goodies. And that’s why I tend to get ahead of myself. I routinely buy more than we need and often more than I can use in the week. The possibilities and low prices are hard to resist. So it happens that some weekends I haven’t really bought much of anything at the marché because I’m trying to catch up with the goodness still in my fridge. It’s happened one or two times that we arrive at the marché Sunday morning and I realize my list may have been a bit to small to warrant the trip but it’ s a weekend ritual we must carry out none the less.

This week I am back to a sort of equilibrium. The fridge is looking emptier and the freezer too since I’m pushing to make space there that I just want to fill again with summer produce preserved for winter. So, what I’m trying to say, is that I finally have a marché picture to share after several weeks without one. Here’s what we came home with for the week:

– radishes

– 2 pounds of tomatoes to eat every time we walk past the bowl on the counter (addictive) and 4.5 lbs (not pictured) to roast and freeze because they were being sold for 50 cents a pound and how can I walk away from that?

– yellow and purple carrots

– demi polka loaf

– green kohlrabi

– eggplant

– cucumber

– red sweet peppers

– potatoes

– “fontaine” onion

– zucchini

– dill

– parsley

And here are some dishes they will go into:

Stir fried Vegetables with Mediterranean Flavors and Sesame Quinoa Pilaf (from) – Summer Quesadillas – Insalata de Pomodori, Finocchi, e Seppie – Pizza – Roasted Vegetable Tart with Chevre and Herb Salad (coming soon)


Also this past weekend, we had an adventure picking up two klismos chairs from a lady selling them on the other side of Paris (one hour away on public transport, 10 minutes if we had a car. ugh.).

Here is the picture I posted on instagram while we were waiting for the tram. I can’t wait to strip the chairs and redo them completely! I’ll share when they are done. They came as a pair for a great price but for the moment I only need one at my desk and I love it already. If you want to see other little bits like this, find me over on twitter or on instagram (abigaillabranche).

One other quick note: I had a request on the Facebook page for a little tomato roasting guidance so I’ve edited last Friday’s post with some tips for roasting and freezing them. Check it out.

So, how was your weekend? Any great finds?