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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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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Vegetarian Paella and New Beginnings

There so many new things going on in my life, and this blog is one of them. I have moved my blog over from one server to another, and although I already made one post, this is my first one since the official switch-over (I was still in transition when I posted the last one).

Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian Paella

Another new thing happening is my cookbook. After speaking with my publisher, I’ve decided to revamp my cookbook, What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way. It’s going to have a new design, new cover, and even a new title. When I first published it on my own in 2008, and then with Bedazzled Ink in 2010, it seemed to work as it was. But a few years down the road, I decided that it was time for a change. I was no longer happy with my book’s appearance, and I don’t really think my publisher was, either.

So, now I’m in the process of editing it. I’m removing material and recipes and taking photos for the interior. It’s been a more complicated process that I had anticipated for various reasons, but I’m getting there. I hope to have the new one ready in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, I wanted to share my recipe for Vegetarian Paella. Those flat, paddle-shaped leaves you see in the photo is a type of fresh oregano, but since fresh oregano is hard to find for many people, I use dry oregano in the recipe. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Paella

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 vegetarian chorizo sausages, sliced into ¼-inch-thick pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 ½ cups Arborio rice, rinsed and drained
Pinch saffron
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup peas
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup minced parsley
Lemon or lime wedges

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1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add the chorizo and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Vegetarian chorizo

Vegetarian chorizo

2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and red and green peppers. Saute until softened. Add rice and saffron; stir to combine and stir-fry to toast a little.

IMG_07983. Mix in tomatoes, zucchini and oregano. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add stock and kale; cover and simmer 20 minutes. (If rice is not fully cooked, add a little more stock or water and continue simmering until done.) Stir in peas and cook another 5 minutes. Add the remaining salt if desired and season with pepper.

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4. Return the chorizo back to the pan and mix in, along with the parsley. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with lemon or lime wedges.

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