Global Cuisine

Kale Chard and Chickpea Stew with Lamb

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by Lisa McRee

kalelambFor most normal cooks, inspiration can come from just about anywhere…a restaurant, a cookbook, even a book club. But one of the consequences of being a journalist who cooks is that, occasionally, I end up “cooking the news.”

And, in 2011, as the pro-democracy movement that became known as the Arab Spring swept through North Africa and the Middle East, I ended up in the kitchen (along with Wolf Blitzer) skinny-fying a traditional dish of the region that’s now a family favorite:  Kale, Chard and Chickpea Stew with Lamb over Clever Couscous.

It’s a dish that not only celebrates the rich tastes of Tunisia, it’s also rich with disease fighting and energy boosting nutrition. Already known to be a great weight loss food, chickpeas are loaded with protein, fiber and iron and–like the other fresh ingredients in this dish like sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, chili peppers, the amazing kale, chard and the super-powered cooked tomatoes – they provide unique antioxidants that are proven to help fight heart disease and cancer.

Red Lentil Dal with Nigella Seed Chapatis

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by Joseph Erdos

altSoups and stews are my favorite dishes during the cold-weather months. Now that the weather has turned chilly and much of the past few weeks have been marked by rain, I am ready to jump into my repertoire of soups and stews. I love meals of chicken soup or beef stew, but I also enjoy vegetarian dishes that are just as filling, nutritious, and comforting. Something with a bit of heat and spice is right up there with the best of soups and stews. That dish for me is Indian dal, a cross between a soup and stew.

Made of legumes (specifically lentils, split peas, or chickpeas), dal is simply put a very earthy dish, often served as part of a thali, a selection of different dishes that can include poultry or meats, vegetables, chutney, raita, and breads. But even when served with rice and/or the flatbread chapati, dal can make a complete meal. The Indian spice blend, garam masala brings warmth and deep flavor and a combination of turmeric and paprika creates a glowing orange color. When you desire something comforting and thoroughly warming, this favorite Indian comfort food is the dish to make.

You Say Nuovo and I Say Novello

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by Michael Tucker

newoliveoil.jpgNovember is a glorious time in Umbria. The grape harvest has been recently completed, the olive harvest is underway and all the stores and restaurants are trumpeting vino novello and olio nuovo. I was at my local butcher and I asked him the difference between nuovo and novello,because as far as I could figure out, they both meant “new”.

A spirited discussion ensued among the small crowd of customers waiting in line for prosciutto, the end result of which was that there is no difference between the two words, but no one would be caught dead saying olio novella or vino nuovo.

If you did, they would think you were a German.

Olio nuovo does not travel. If anyone tries to sell it to you at Dean and Deluca or Eataly, sneer at them and say that you have to be there to get the experience of new oil, just pressed today. By “there” I mean the hills of central Umbria where truly fine olive oil is pressed from the local fruit. I know this because we have been picking that fruit for the last two weeks and will be for the next three.

My Tortillas Are Like Snowflakes

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by Alison Wonderland Tucker

tortillas.jpgI am a control freak.

I think most good chefs are.  Leaving things to chance is how you get in trouble in the kitchen- so I’m an avid organizer, chronic double checker and maniacal listmaker.

But food is funny about control.  I am not a machine that orders chemically processed and manipulated items into submission.  The best ingredients we all cook with are fluid, not static.  They come from the land, sky, soil and sea.  As much as we understand the science behind nature, it’s important to remember its unpredictability.

And that, your honor, is the case for the defense.

Perfect food presentation is my Achilles heel.  I fantasize about serving scrumptious morsels of food that no one wants to touch – let alone eat- because they are just so beautiful.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my inner critic (I call her Martha, for pretty obvious reasons) telling me I’m not good enough.

Homemade Taco Filling

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by Susan Salzman

tacoseasoningI grew up loving “taco night”. It was one my favorite nights of the week. I love a crispy shell (a tortilla, lightly fried in oil), filled with seasoned meat, homemade salsa, good-organic cheese, and fresh lettuce. Yum!!

I wanted to make a childhood favorite for my kids. The seasoning that I grew up on, sadly, was not something I was going to feed to my kids. Instead, for years, I made soft, chicken tacos. The chicken, slightly sauteed in a combo of onions, tomatoes, a small teaspoon of chopped jalapenos, chicken stock, and some seasonings. They are super tasty, but nothing can beat a crispy taco.

I read Cook’s Illustrated religiously and own every issue since 1993 (and a selection from 1981-1992). They are my “go-to” and a place that I find lots of inspiration. Many of our favorite dishes are adapted from CI so when I found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning, I earmarked the page and headed to the kitchen.

Using the original recipe as a jumping off point, I changed it up a bit to make it my own. Keeping a mix of the dry ingredients, stored in a glass jar, helps make taco (or tostada) night, any night of the week.

Shu Mai for the New Year

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by Joseph Erdos

porkdumplingsI love the custom of Chinese dim sum because it brings friends and family together at the table. This style of food is enjoyed with small plates, which allows the diner the opportunity to enjoy many different dishes in small quantities. For me it's a way to find a favorite and stick with it. In every Chinatown in the United States you would be hard pressed not to find a restaurant offering dim sum or what I like to call Chinese brunch. I remember my first time at a dim sum place in New York with a group of Asian friends. I was lucky to have help in deciphering the menus and communicating with the waitresses, who brought out the food on trolleys and took orders by stamping slips of paper. It's truly an experience that transports the nonnative eater to China.

It's been many years since I've had good traditional dim sum and my longing for dumplings has increasingly grown since. With the arrival of Chinese New Year, there is no better reason to make my dim sum favorite, shu mai, at home. These dumplings are typically made of shrimp and pork, but they can also be made of pork and mushroom, and even mutton, depending on the regional cuisine. No matter the filling, shu mai always retain a characteristic look: they sort of resemble little volcanoes with filling erupting from their tops. They only need limited skill to form the shape and the best shortcut of all is using wonton wrappers instead of making the dough. It takes just minutes to bring together this easy dim sum, which also makes a fun party appetizer.

Sweet-Tangy Plum-Spiced Chicken

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by Cathy Pollak

sweet tangy plum spiced chickenI call this the 1-2-3 dinner because just like that, snap, and it's ready.

On the way home yesterday, after spending the afternoon at a museum with my boys, my eight-year old begged me to make this for dinner. It's one of his favorite meals and he knows he doesn't have to wait long for me to whip this up.

"Mom, please make the 1-2-3 chicken tonight, it's soooo good. I really, really want it and it's so yummy.

So here it is, dinner in a flash, ready so fast there's even time to take pictures!

I know I saw this recipe in a magazine, however I can't remember which one. I've made it so many times, I have it memorized. I also don't remember if this dish had a name, so let's call it Tangy-Sweet Plum-Spiced Chicken, a shout out to the plum jam and Chinese five-spice powder used in this recipe.

Magic Green Elixir

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by Lisa McRee

lisamccree.jpgHere’s a true confession: Sometimes I really miss the ‘80s. Okay. Maybe I don’t miss the Crystal Carrington hair, the Donna Mills eye shadow, or the chandelier earrings that looked like they should hang over Trump’s dining table. (What are they made of? Foil?? And look! A matching necklace! I could be Queen of  QVC!)

But I did have a great time as an anchor and reporter in Dallas in the ’80′s, and do miss the group of girlfriends who joined me after the 5 o’clock news as we ate our way around the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex.

Of all the places we haunted, I think our favorite was Javier’s. Very upscale for Mexican restaurants of that time, it was decidedly old school and elegant in a Mexico City kind of way. There, you wouldn’t find tacos or quesadillas …but rich moles, luscious grilled steaks stuffed with roasted chilies and cheese, and pulled pork that was cooked in a seasoned sauce for so long that it didn’t just melt in your mouth, it melted on your fork on it’s way there.

tomatillosalsa_close.jpgBut Javier knew, whenever we walked in, that more than the meats or moles, all we really craved was a bucket (or two) of chips and big bowl (or 2) their warm tomatillo sauce. There was no day at work, no traffic so bad or no break-up so fierce, that this sweet yet spicy sauce wouldn’t cure it. It was our Magic Green Elixir.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Ribs

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by James Moore

sweetsourshortribis.jpgI’ve never really use a “crock pot” that often, but these ribs make it worth dragging it out of the basement. They literally fall of the bone and the sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. They are quick to throw together but take a few hours to cook, so start them early.

America's Test Kitchen suggests standing the ribs in the crock. Simply halve each rack of ribs and stand the pieces up in a ring around the outside of the slow-cooker insert, where the heating coils are.

Their technique results in perfectly cooked ribs with concentrated meaty flavor and even allows the ribs to brown a little right against the heat source.

Pork and Shrimp Magic Fried Rice

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by Lisa McCree

friedriceinbowlSometimes a huge craving for Chinese food can be settled with a simple bowl of fried rice.

But before you even think about pulling over for any belt busting take-out Chinese like Panda Express, you need to know that a mere cup and a quarter of their fried rice, even with no meat, has 570 calories!!! That’s one third of the calories my 5’5 self should have in a whole day!!

Instead, make this skinny fried rice–loaded with veg and protein– in just minutes, at home.

By skipping almost all of the oil, using Egg Beaters instead of whole eggs, and using a mix of Cauliflower Rice and Brown Rice, you can have the full taste of take out…but for only 120 calories a cup! If this delish dish doesn’t convince you that learning how to make Cauliflower Rice and Magic Rice is worth the wee bit of effort,  nothing will!


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