Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Cookbooking

World Party Front CoverI haven’t blogged much in the past few weeks because I’ve had so much going on. Part of that busyness is that I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my soon-to-be-released cookbook, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates. Dara Bunjon, Social Media Administrator of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, was awesome enough to have me as a guest blogger at her blog, Dining Dish. I give a little bit of background on the book and a special recipe from it.

There’s so much that goes into creating a cookbook:

  • Writing/developing the recipes
  • Testing the recipes multiple times
  • Setting up photo shoots and taking the photographs (not as easy as you might think)
  • Designing
  • Layout
  • Cover design
  • Writing “other” copy (introduction, acknowledgements, head notes, tips, index, source lists, etc.)
  • Proofing and revising
  • Proofing and revising
  • Proofing and revising (yes, again and again)

And then there’s the marketing, which is a whole other job unto itself.

It’s a lot of work. Creating a cookbook is the kind of thing you really, really want to do. It’s a labor of love.

And I do love it. I just wish I could make real money from them. That’s hard to do because there’s a lot of competition out there. But I do the best I can because I believe in my books, in my food, and in what I can offer people who love to cook and eat.

Also in the works is the new editions of my older cookbook, Vegetarian Italian: Traditions.  I will be re-releasing this book, and what was supposed to be volume 2, as ebooks. I hope to get that done by the end of the year. I’ll be posting updates as I go along.

In the meantime, go to Dining Dish and see what international recipe I’m offering (hint: it’s Cuban!).

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A World Party

Hi, everyone. In lieu of a recipe or story, this week I’d like to share with you something different. My latest cookbook, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates, is going to be released soon, and one of the fun things I’ve put together for it is a playlist.

To give you an idea of what the book is about, here’s the back blurb:

World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates offers more than 200 recipes from 82 countries around the world. Traditional, classic, and beloved, they can be found at bazaars, on food carts, and in the homes of everyday cooks. These authentic dishes have been tweaked to be meatless options but no one will miss the meat, and they will become part of your go-to repertoire for any party. Travel the world and entertain with international fare right in your own home.World Party Front Cover

I spent years putting together the recipes for this book. It was at times frustrating, infuriating, pocket-gouging, and exhausting, but above all, it was so much fun. A cookbook is a labor of love to begin with, but when the topic is something that you pulled out of the depths of your heart and worked on it with your soul, it becomes a part of you.

I have no idea how well this book will be received, or how many it will sell, but it’s something that I was driven to do, and I’m very proud of the results. What a journey I went on! From all the testings, prodding people for their recipes, trying new dishes in both restaurants and people’s homes, I have memories and experiences that will always stay with me.

In the invisible pockets of this book are snapshots of my friends gathered around my table, tasting my experiments; reams and reams of paper with changes, edits, and stains of various juices and purees; and little envelopes of emotion—disappointment when a recipe failed, elation when something worked, and something else unnameable when I was told again and again that I’d never get this published because I was a nobody.

So much went into it, but it was worth it. I will be announcing the official release soon. Look for it from all online retailers.

So, about the playlist. This is a great list to play while you’re cooking and definitely while you’re entertaining. It’s a collection of world music, with a few familiar favorites thrown in (that are nonetheless appropriate). So have a listen. I hope you enjoy it. You can also follow this link to Spotify.


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Quick Omelet Cups

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Today’s recipe is one that I created in order to have quick, easy-to-transport, and easy-to-heat breakfasts that fit in with a low-carb diet. Working a full-time job, commuting 15 hours a week, and having a writing career on the side makes it difficult for me to prepare meals for myself on a daily basis.

Obviously, I love to cook, but lack of time and energy keeps me from doing a whole lot of it. To be truthful, I rely on my mom’s leftovers to get me through the week. But when there isn’t enough for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners (never mind breakfast), or when I’m on a particular diet, I have to engage in a long, arduous cooking spree on the weekend.

And that’s what happened when I created these omelet cups. I needed something that I could have for breakfast that would fill me and that I didn’t have to think about–I could just grab some and go.

I wanted to pack them with as many veggies as I could, so I got what was fresh at the farmer’s market that week: zucchini, summer squash, and green beans. Spinach is always a good veggie option for egg dishes, but needed to make this fast (especially because it was a thousand degrees that day and I didn’t want to spend more time in my hot kitchen than I had to). But you can certainly use fresh spinach if you want to.

These are very easy to make, are wonderfully transportable, and easily heated in a microwave or toaster oven. Or eaten at room temperature. They are not only low carb, but gluten and wheat free as well. And since this makes a batch of 12, you can throw some in the freezer for three months.

Enjoy!

Quick Omelet Cups

10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped green beans
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped summer (yellow) squash
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 large eggs
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach and set aside. Grease the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or 2 6-cups tins) and set aside. (If you want, you can use paper muffin cups.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a wide frying pan. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent.IMG_6163

Add the green pepper and continue sautéing until the pepper softens. Add the green beans, zucchini, summer squash, salt, and black pepper. Continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened and begin to brown.IMG_6164Add the spinach and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.IMG_6165Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the cooked vegetables, along with the cheese.IMG_6170Ladle equal amounts into each of the 12 muffin cups.IMG_6173and bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of an omelet cup comes out fairly clean.IMG_6176Serve hot or at room temperature. These can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week, or frozen up to 3 months.IMG_6184

 

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Red and Gold Beet Salad

 

beet saladLove, love, love beets. There are different varieties, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us find the red most often. Getting the golden, pink, rainbow, or any other kind of beets, for me, requires a special trip to a farmers’ market or specialty store.

Well, this past week, I lucked out. The farmers’ market that sets up shop outside of my workplace once a week had golden beets, which is not always the case.beets

Anyway, in my opinion, the best thing to do with beets is make a salad with them. It’s the easiest thing in the world and so flavorful. And when you mix beets, it’s beautiful, too.

But if you can only find the red beets, it’s just as delicious. I like to roast beets, but in the summer, turning on the oven is not fun, so I boil them. (If you have a grill you can use, then that’s even better!). There’s nothing wrong with boiling, just don’t overcook them and use only just enough water to cover them in the pot. Enjoy!

Red and Gold Beet Salad

1½ pounds red and yellow beets
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash and trim the beets of excess roots or threads. Place in a medium-large pot and fill with enough water to cover the beets. Bring to a boil; lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the beets are cooked. You should be able to stick the tip of a knife easily all the way through.

Remove beets from the water and let them cool. Peel off the skin and trim off unappealing parts (such as near the roots). Cut them into quarters or bite-sized pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently. Serve.
beet salad

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Triple-Flavor Ice Cream Cake with Gluten-Free Cookies

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What do you do when you have a birthday lunch or dinner to go to, and one of the people going has Celiac Disease and can’t have regular cake, but it’s 100 degrees F out and the thought of turning on the oven to bake a gluten-free cake makes you want to cry?

You make an ice cream cake.

Make an ice cream cake? Why not just buy an ice cream cake, you ask.

Well, let me explain it to you this way. I come from an Italian family. My father loves telling stories about how when he was a boy, he would go up into the mountains in his hometown in Italy and pick fresh chestnuts and eat them until he got sick, and how he remembers the cheeses and curing meats hanging in the kitchen of his family home. I have a mother whose idea of a simple meal consists of a minimum of six different dishes—for the second course, mind you—and for whom a “quick” sauce means opening up a jar of home-canned tomatoes. So, you see, buying a Shop Rite ice cream cake won’t do. Even Cookie Puss wouldn’t be able to charm his way onto my parents’ table.

Anyway, back to the cake. I drew the line at making the ice cream from scratch, so I went out and bought three different flavors: white chocolate raspberry truffle, coffee caramel, and pineapple coconut.

I also bought gluten-free cookies, which I crushed to put in between the layers. Each flavor of ice cream was different layer, with the cookies in between.

The end result was a very attractive and definitely delicious dessert that was simple to make and let the house stay unbaked in the middle of summer. Huge plus. Continue reading


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Picnic Posole Salad

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I’ve been making posole salad for picnics, parties, and barbecues years. I think people enjoy it because it’s both something different from the usual fare, while offering something familiar and not too “out there.”

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Dried hominy

So what is posole (or pozole)? Not everyone outside of the Latin community is familiar with posole. Posole means “hominy” (from the Nahuatl word pozolle), and actually refers to a stew, popular in Mexico and made with hominy and pork or chicken. But it is sometimes also used (loosely and unofficially) to refer to the hominy itself, which is properly called mote. Corn, in general, is known as maize.

Mote is maize that has had its hulls removed through a process known as nixtamalization. This involves boiling the kernels in a water-and-lime (or ash) solution. The resulting product is used in many traditional dishes throughout Latin America, the most commonly known being posole stew, a dish that goes back to the pre-Colombian Aztecs. Continue reading


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White Bean Hummus with Garlic Scapes

white bean hummus garlic scapesBecause garlic scapes have such a short season (early summer), I’ve been on a garlic scape kick, using them in as many ways as I can. Last week, I made Lentils with Garlic Scapes and the week before that, I made Beet Greens with Garlic Scapes.

All delicious. But this week I decided to use the scapes in its purest form: raw.Garlic scapes Continue reading