World Cuisine

where chefs eatWhen my lovely daughter, Hillary was a Malibu pre-teen, I gave her what I thought was a total slam-dunk-she-is-going-to adore-it-Christmas present: A beanbag sofa in the shape of a large sneaker bought from the Neiman Marcus catalog. Fortunately, Neiman’s has always been gracious about returns, but my daughter still hesitates before she opens a gift from me. Bill and I on the other hand bask in the unexpected delights of her choices… though, how does one carry a 1000 page book (in small print yet) in a back pocket?

Please understand, this is not just your ordinary gift book; this is a bible - a primer from the Real Experts, and it is Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs' Favorite Restaurants (2015).

The cover is a visually busy almanac-styled side show tent chock full of promises: “Where to Eat, When to Go, What to Order, From more than 600 of the best chefs, From Fast Food to Haute Cuisine, A Truly Global Guide, Expert Local Knowledge. Forget the restaurant guides compiled by a panel of mysterious experts, this international guide is by the real insiders, over 600 of the world’s leading chefs. From Late-Night Hangouts to … (but we will never know as there is a big faux sticker saying … Brand New) If that is not enough to stuff this tome of tomes in one’s back pocket, try cruising the contents. Oh Boy, this beats the original Preppy Handbook for feeling in the know!

I mean, really, I know all the cool spots in Auckland, Shanghai, London, Berlin, Estonia, Latvia and The Russian Federation, Cyprus, Istanbul, West Hollywood and Tanzania – just to name a few. So, if you want to name drop where Daniel Boulud, David Chang or René Redzepi or Yotam Ottolenghi hang, then this book is for you… and you… and you. (OMG It even has maps!)

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pomegranaterosesI’ve always been a summer kind of girl but I’ve got soft spot for winter holidays especially the festivities of the winter equinox. In Persian culture, on the first night of winter (which is also the longest night of winter), everyone stays up late to gather around one another, eat great food, and share poetry and stories. We call this evening Shab-e Yalda.

So while I don’t quite have the fire pit to gather my friends around, I do have my beloved coffee table (it can hold just the right amount of coffee table books than a true book collector can dream of) and every winter, I purchase a delicious cookbook to make new dishes and a new storybook for friends to discover when they come over.

For this year, I’m displaying two of the most beautiful books I have ever come across: the cookbook Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes and the illustrated book Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings which is a new illustrated version of Ferdowsi’s beloved tale. So whether it’s to celebrate Shab-e Yalda or any of this season’s holidays, both of these incredible books make fantastic gifts. They are visually striking, lavish in detail, and truly memorable.

So eat, read, and repeat all winter long…between the decadent recipes in Pomegranates and Roses and the 500 plus pages of illustrated beauty in Shahnameh…there’s plenty to get cozy and happy about over this holiday season.

FundidoJust in time for Cinco de Mayo, these recipes - one each for the meat lover, seafood lover and vegetarian - were created by Chef Eduardo Garcia, co-founder of Montana Mex seasoning salts, which are used in each recipe (and available online). What's better than melted cheese mixed with mexican spices?


Lamb And Mint Fundido
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb of ground lamb
6 Tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
6 Tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme, woody stems removed
3 teaspoons Montana Mex Picante Salt
4 oz Oaxaca Cheese, grated
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Method:
Pre-heat oven on Low Broil

1. Large saute pan, on medium heat, add olive oil and lamb, saute and break as you would ground beef for tacos, about 4 minutes.

2. Add thyme, garlic, Montana Mex picante salt and saute until garlic is cooked, about 2 minutes.

3. Turn off heat, add all the mint and stir to combine well.

4. In a shallow oven-proof dish/casserole dish, spread meat mixture evenly on the bottom, and cover with all the grated Oaxaca Cheese.

5. Broil on Low in the oven until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Serve warm with warm corn tortillas/favorite tortilla chips.

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srirachacookbook2.jpgI would love to take a moment to review The Sriracha Cookbook that arrived last January. I would also like to take a moment to tell you how much I love the book. But I can’t. I won’t. Why? Because I’m too busy stuffing my face with this recipe.

Let’s say this will be the shortest book review in Mattbites’ history. I’m going to be lazy and point you to what others have said about Randy Clemons’ book appropriately titled The Sriracha Cookbook from Ten Speed Press.

(It’s a fantastic cookbook, and if you’re crazy for the flavors of that certain chili sauce then you really need the book. Really. It’s wonderful.)

But about this pork. Oh damn, this pork. Forget calling this  “slow-cooked”: you’ll need an overnight brine plus an additional 12 hours of cooking time. Let’s try “half-a-day-cooked-but-well-worth-the-time-invested”, ok?  But Randy lets us know there are no shortcuts to these types of flavors and he’s right–it’s worth it. 

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ImageIndia: The Cookbook
The amount most of us knows about Indian cuisine is miniscule. And yet, who doesn't love Indian food? Making it at home using the best ingredients is a revelation. This book has the largest collection of Indian recipes that I have ever seen. The introductory sections on the regions of India alone is wonderful.

Bookmarked recipes: Dry cabbage in masala, Lamb in chickpea flour and curry yogurt, Coconut filled pancakes

Why?
This encyclopedia of 1000 recipes will be your go-to Indian cooking reference.

Who?
Those who love Indian food but want to experience a wider variety of fresh, tasty food than they can find in any given Indian restaurant.

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