So, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several events hosted by The French Cheese Board in New York City. This past month, I attended a soiree at their new location in in Little Italy. (Although, judging from the hip space and chic crowd, I’m tempted to call it a Soho party.) There was an amazing selection of cheeses and I had my fill, for sure.
Anyway, the very nice people at The French Cheese Board were gracious enough to offer me some cheeses to experiment with. And who am I to turn down such generosity? No one, that’s who. I requested three kinds of cheeses, and below is the first recipe I came up with. This one uses one of my new favorite cheeses, Mimolette.
Mimolette is a sharp cheese, and has nutty, fruity undertones. It’s easily spotted within a selection of French cheeses because it’s the color of cheddar (except more vibrant), and has a thick, granular-looking crust.
I thought that both the color and flavor would go well with vegetables, so I decided to make Caramelized Onion Rings with Chipotle Cream and Mimolette. Caramelized onions are incredibly divine, but if you’re not a fan, try this with grilled asparagus or grilled or roasted sweet potatoes slices. Continue reading →
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
I love avocados. They’re so rich, buttery, and delicious, yet healthy. There are so few things in life that can’t be said to be decadent and heart-healthy at the same time. This is one of them.
Avocados—technically, fruits—are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium (more per weight than bananas), folate, B5, B6, and B9. One avocado contains more than one-third the daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K. People often avoid avocados because they think they’re high in fat. And they are. But the good kind of fat—monounsaturated, in the form of oleic acid, which reduces levels of bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Avocados have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and, due to their phytochemicals, prevent cancer. Studies have also found that people who ate avocados were more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI (body mass index), and waist circumference. An average avocado contains around 4 grams of protein, more than most other fruits, and only .4 grams of sugar, less than most other fruits.
I didn’t have my first avocado until I was an adult. We didn’t eat avocados in our family—it simply wasn’t a typical Italian ingredient. I was probably in my 20s when I had my first taste. Initially, I didn’t care for them; I didn’t appreciate their butteriness. It felt to me like I was eating…well, a stick of butter. Then I was introduced to guacamole, and my world changed. Guacamole became the secret treasure I would seek out at parties. And if there wasn’t any, I was very disappointed and marked that party off as a failure. I then began to appreciate avocados on their own and in other dishes.
Avocados go well with so many other ingredients, including cabbage. I was inspired to create this recipe by a dinner I worked to fulfill a class requirement at The Natural Gourmet Institute. By using your hands to squeeze the ingredients together, the cabbage softens and it creates a tender, creamy slaw. You can put your own swerve on it by adding other ingredients, such as poppy seeds, chopped pickle, or shredded carrot.
Avocado Slaw Canapes
1 large ripe Haas avocado, diced
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn or wheat)
Olive oil for brushing
2 medium plum tomatoes, diced small
1. Combine the avocado, cabbage, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. With your hands, squeeze the ingredients together until cabbage has softened and ingredients are well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.
2. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out 2 circles from each tortilla. Brush the circles lightly with olive oil and brown them on both sides on a grill or in a frying pan.
3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the slaw onto each tortilla round and garnish with the tomato.