Category Archives: Cooking Tips

Learn Latin Cooking

Just discovered a great resource for getting an education in the cuisines of Latin America and how to prepare classic dishes. Check this out

Discover Latin American Cuisine Online
Explore the best of Latin American culture and cooking, no matter where you are. Visit the CIA’s Web pages devoted to the passion and discovery of Latin cuisine. Brought to you by the Center for Foods of the Americas, this exciting resource features informational videos and authentic recipes from Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. Log on now to discover the diversity of Latin America’s regional cuisines.

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Eastern European pastry

Nice story in the Kansas City Star about kolaches, with recipes.

http://www.kansascity.com/2010/07/20/2094194/a-shawnee-bakery-delivers-the.html

If you don’t make them yourself , where do you go when have a taste for these traditional  treats ?

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International Dinner

It’s  been way too hot to cook, or even think about cooking, the past few days. but tonight’s cold dinner was a winner and required no stove time. I made a tasty gazpacho using fresh produce I had bought at the farmers market on Saturday. To go with it, I pulled a fine selection of really special cheeses from the fridge, purchased from Gus Mouganis at Mediterranean Imports, located in the Westside Market. We had Chistou, from France made with cow and sheep milk; cloth aged Cabot cheddar; and Testun from Italy that gets its unusual flavor from time spent in oak barrels that formerly held Barolo wine fermented from Nebbiolo grapes. Each variety was new to me, chosen after Gus sliced off pieces so I could taste them. To round out this simple supper we had slices of dense sour rye bread, available only at the beginning of the month, from Zoss the Swiss Baker.  Served together it was a Travel Channel feast and just the thing for a steamy summer night.

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Grilling in Thai

Very bad, very sad news coming out of Thailand this week. So it seemed like just the right time to post something positive related to this country.  And with the sun actually shining on a weekend, I’m thinking about cooking outside. That leads me to a happy thought- I have some Thai sausage from Mister Brisket in my freezer.  They make it themselves and it’s really wonderful done on the grill.

Curious about the why and what, I called Sanford Herskovitz, the real Mr. B, to get the story of how the sausages ended up on his product list, the only Asian inspired meat in the mix . He told me that he first tasted them a Z’s, the innovative restaurant Zack Bruell opened back in the ’80’s. And Herskovitz ate many more in Bangkok on a trip to the southeast Asian nation he made with his wife Frances. Intrigued with their unqiue flavor, he decided to recreate them for his Cleveland Heights store. 

His version is made with ground veal, soy sauce, cilantro, a lot of garlic and hint of sweetness from brown sugar. At just $5.99 a pound, these links are a bargain. I like mine  with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables or soba (buckwheat) noodles tossed with scallions, sesame seeds and peanut sauce. Sanford says they’re good on a bun with honey mustard.  I’m definitely going to have to put that on my To Try list.

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Dinner and a Novel

I am reading  a wonderful novel, The Lacuna  by Barbara Kingsolver. The first half takes place in Mexico. Frido Kahlo, Diego Rivera and cast of other real life personalities show up to interact with the fictional hero.  There is much cooking and detailed decriptions of what everyone was eating morning, noon and night. So it’s no wonder that I found myself with a taste for jalapenos, mole, and chayote. 

I had a fridge full of food and we’ve been eating out quite a bit, so going to a Mexican restaurants wasn’t an option. And I needed a break from meat- too much of that the past week. So using what I found on hand, and perhaps drawing inspiration by osmosis from my reading, I put together a version of  vegetarian chalupas. The game changing ingredient was sweet potato.

It was a really good meal- not an authentic one by any stretch of the imagination, but one that was delicious, healthy, and satisfied my craving for Mexican flavors. Here’s the how.

1. Dice 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 stalks celery, 1 large clove garlic. Saute until soft in a small amount of oil.

 2.Add 1 can drained black beans, half a sweet potato diced, 1 jar of good quality spicy, chunky salsa (I had wonderful homemade stuff canned by my son Nathan last summer),  1 tablspoon tomato paste, and 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce (to give it depth) diluted with an equal amount water (very important).

 3.Simmer over low heat until potatoes are fork tender. Add water or another spoonful of tomato paste diluted with water, if more liquid is needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Spoon hot bean and sweet potato mixture into warm edibile taco bowls. Top with a sprinkling of grated cheese ( mine was a pre-shredded packaged mix of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero from Sargento).  Then layer on the following: shredded iceberg lettuce tossed with fresh lime juice,  chopped scallions, diced red pepper, and green pimento stuffed olives ( no reason for these over black ones- that’s just what was in the cupboard), and 2 ripe avocados sliced. Spoon salsa over all, plus a dollop of thick middle eastern style yogurt (labna) and a squeeze of lime.   

Two of us ate until we felt full and happy, very happy, and there’s till some left for lunch. I’ll eat it while reading the next chapter.

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Curry meets kung poa

Check out this story: India and China meet on the plate
Dishes created by Chinese people living in India are spicier than the Chinese food familiar to most Americans. The flavorful cuisine, known as Indian-Chinese, combines classic Indian ingredients such as garam masala, cilantro and tamarind with Chinese ingredients such as soy sauce, ginger and garlic. National Public Radio . Then, go sample some Indo-Chinese food at Cuisine of India  in Parma Heights (Cleveland Ethnic Eats, 8th edition,  page 60). Piece includes recipes and you can find all the ingedients required at the Asian and Indian markets listed in the book.

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A Day of Cooking

Wonderful piece by Russ Parson’s in yesterday’s LA Times called Stop and Smell the Ragu. It describes the special pleasure of spending a day assembling and tending to a simmering pot  of real Italian “gravy”. Made me hungry and eager to get into the kitchen and start cooking, the two benchmarks of a great food story.

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