Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Release of World Party!!

World Party Front CoverAt long last, I can finally announce the release of my latest cookbook, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates.

Thai Peanut Dumplings

Thai Peanut Dumplings

This is both an excitement and a relief because this book has been on a long and arduous trip. I first got the idea for it, and began researching recipes and cuisines for it, in 2002. I spent many years testing and developing recipes to duplicate the dishes I’d read about and sampled, but in such a way that they would stay true to the originals as much as possible while making them meatless.

M'Baazi

M’Baazi

I started with a list, and that list grew and grew. Over the years, I added recipes, deleted recipes, changed recipes, and in a few cases I was so determined to make a particular recipe work that I just kept testing and testing until I came up with the right result. Sometimes a recipe simply didn’t work and I tossed it. Occasionally I would discover that I’d confused one dish for another, and sometimes I had a recipe that I couldn’t find the proper name for in its originating culture. In those cases, I researched high and low on the internet and in books and magazines, asked friends and coworkers if they knew, asked friends to ask their friends and coworkers if they knew, posted questions in special interest groups on Facebook, etc. I found out the answers to some, and found out that I had others all wrong.

An Indian Feast

An Indian Feast

As I met and talked to more and more people from different cultures, my list expanded but, oddly, also shrank. So many cultures have more common threads than we imagine, and as I started to examine my recipes, I began to realize that there were more similarities than differences. It was a fascinating and educational journey I went on.

Pot Stickers

Pot Stickers

The one thing I’ve learned from this project, if nothing else, is that no matter what clothing people wear, what religion they practice, what rituals they perform, what kinds of jobs they hold, or how much money they have, we are more similar than we are different. You can see this in the very similar dishes that are shared between nations, with maybe just a spice or two, or a cooking method, differentiating them.

Arepitas with Black Bean-Corn Salsa

Arepitas with Black Bean-Corn Salsa

Eating is the one thing that every single human being on earth must do to survive, so it’s no wonder that food is the common bond across the planet. No matter where you go in the world, a signal that you are welcome is the offer of food. When you are a guest at someone’s home, it always gives your hosts tremendous pleasure to feed to. It is the global sign of hospitality, and many customs and rituals were created around food. In some places, to refuse food is an insult, or to not finish it all is a sign of poor manners. Some cultures expect you to belch loudly when you’re done to show that you are satisfied.

Food always brings brings people of the world together.

Australian "Roo" Burgers

Australian “Roo” Burgers

It’s my hope that through food, we can find common ground and sit at the table together to share a meal.

So take a trip around the world. If you can’t do it physically, do it in your kitchen and at your table. Try new recipes and explore new flavors, and invite your friends and loved ones to share in the journey. Most of all, enjoy it. Peace.

A Spanish Feast

A Spanish Feast

 

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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


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Amaranth-Dal Patties

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My pantry is stuffed to the gills with all sorts of items that the average cook with raise an eyebrow to. In fact, I’ll bet I have a few items in there that the average cook has possibly not even heard of, let alone used. If you were my neighbor and needed something for a recipe you were cooking or baking, chances are I’d have it. Anything at all. Need some flour? What kind? All-purpose? Whole wheat? Pastry? Spelt? Soy? Buckwheat? Barley? Teff? Oat? Fava bean?

Need rice? Currently, I’ve got brown, basmati, brown basmati, jasmin, Thai black, rosematta, glutinous Thai, and Japanese short grain.

Looking for grains? Choose from white and red quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, millet, and teff.

So, what am I saying here? That I am constantly looking for ways to use up all of that stuff! And so here is what I came up with to use both amaranth and some mixed dal I had. I could’ve just made a soup, but I wanted to do something different. This is what I came up with—Amaranth-Dal Patties. If you’re not familiar with amaranth, they’re tiny little grains that are gluten-free and high in iron and lysine. Here’s a link for more information.

Amaranth

Amaranth

You can season the patties with whatever herbs or spices you like, and/or dress them with any kind of sauce, from raita to salsa to piri piri (just make sure to pair the seasonings and dressing appropriately—you wouldn’t want to use garam masala as a seasoning and then dip them in Asian soy dipping sauce!). You can also substitute the flour for something that is gluten-free. Continue reading


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Guava Quesadillas

IMG_5341Oh, my peeps, do I have a great recipe for you this week. I saw these beautiful Mexican guavas at the store and picked up a carton. I’m a big fan of guava and knew that I could do quite a few things with them.

First, I decided to make a puree and I would go from there. When I cut themIMG_5328 open, I was surprised to find that they were white guavas rather than the pink ones that we most often think of. They’re delicious, just not as pretty. But that’s okay.

I also happened to have some queso fresco on hand, which I’d purchased for another recipe. Queso fresco—literally, “fresh cheese”—is like a feta cheese in flavor and texture, but it’s much milder, and it’s used frequently in Latin American cuisines. You can find it in Latin American markets, or supermarkets that have a decent cheese selection. If you can’t find it, any crumbly feta-like cheese will do.

Oh, and I also had blue corn tortillas. My decision was easy. I would make guava quesadillas. They require so few ingredients, yet guava quesadillas are so flavor-packed and really fun to eat. The sweetness of the guava is offset by the saltiness of the cheese, so you can actually have them as part of a meal, a snack, or dessert. And you can add whatever toppings you like: salsa, guacamole, hot sauce. It all works.IMG_5330 Continue reading


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Italian Vegetable Crackers

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Want to do something different for that  Christmas party? Why don’t you try making your own crackers? They’re really not that difficult.

Crackers have been around for thousands of years—the ancient Romans made them! The word “cracker” comes from the Medieval word craken, meaning “to resound,” which describes the sound they made when broken.

Italians love to put vegetables in everything, and crackers are no exception. These crackers are a nice blend of herbs and fresh greens. Fava beans, in particular, are very popular in Italy and this recipes utilizes fava bean flour. Not only does it eliminate at least a little bit of the white flour, but it lends the crackers a more complex, vaguely nutty flavor.

Put these out with cheese, dips, salsa, or even guacamole. But they’re tasty enough to enjoy on their own.

Enjoy!

Italian Vegetable Crackers

Makes approximately 7 dozen crackers.

½ cup chopped greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
¼ cup +2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup fava bean flour (or chick pea flour)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Hawaiian sea salt or other finishing salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place greens and 1 teaspoon oil in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, rosemary, oregano, paprika, garlic powder,  kosher salt, fennel seed, pepper, and parmesan. IMG_4165

Add ¼ cup oil and mix until a dough forms. If necessary, add water, a little at a time, until all ingredients come together.IMG_4166IMG_4167

Place a piece of parchment paper down on a clean surface. Place  dough on the parchment and roll out as thinly as possible. IMG_4169

Cut off the edges to make straight lines. With a ruler, score 1 inch rows down and then across. IMG_4171

Brush top with remaining oil; sprinkle with finishing salt, if desired.IMG_4174

Bake until firm and lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Then move parchment to a cooling rack. Separate crackers and let cool completely.

Store in a tin.

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