MarocMama

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An Interview with Faith of An Edible Mosaic

An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair

Over the last few months I’ve shared several posts about the cookbook An Edible Mosaic. What really drew me to this project (and the cookbook) was how similar Faith’s story was to my own.  I don’t know all the details of her relationship but there are plenty of parallels.  We both met and married Middle Eastern men, learning to cook the cuisine they grew up with.  We’ve both spent time in our husband’s countries and navigated the hurdles that go with cross-cultural relationships.  To wrap up this project I decided to interview Faith to find out more about her journey with Middle Eastern food.

What was the first Middle Eastern/Syrian dish you learned to make?

Fried Kibbeh. My mother-in-law loves to tell the story of when she first showed me how to make this dish…she and I were working in the living room at a coffee table as we shaped the kibbeh, relaxed and chatting happily as best we could – remember, she speaks Arabic and I speak English, and although we both know a little of the other’s language, it is often times a challenge, but surprisingly we understand each other more than you might think! She formed one perfect torpedo-shaped kibbeh and after I saw her shape the first one, I joined right in. Of course my kibbeh wasn’t nearly as perfect looking as hers, but I soon improved and she said I was able to make kibbeh after seeing it made only once, which is something no one else that she has taught has been able to do. Here’s how she describes it: “I’ve tried to teach many Arabic women how to make Kibbeh Mekliyeh; it takes several times before they can do it, and some never even master it. Faith saw me make it once and the next time she made it herself. As we say in Arabic, laha nefus ala el ekel (literally meaning, she has breath that is good for food, which means she has a deep passion for cooking).”

It was an incredible feeling that night when we sat down to dinner and my mother-in-law pointed out to the family the kibbeh that I had made.

Why was it important to you to learn to make the foods of your husband’s country?

Wanting to make my hubby happy and to show him that it was important to me to be accepted into his family and culture played a huge role in my desire to learn to cook Middle Eastern food. Also, my hubby (Mike) is quite a picky eater in general (even when it comes to Middle Eastern foods), and I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to cook his favorite dishes outside of the Middle East when I didn’t have his mom there to guide me. Mike often talks about how growing up his mom would make one dish for the entire family and a separate dish just for him because of how picky he was. Once I started learning how to make Mike’s favorite dishes and eventually mastered them, he starting telling me all the time how he doesn’t have to miss his mom’s cooking because mine is every bit as good. Of course I give his mom the credit for this – she is the one who taught me, after all!

What kind of feedback did you get from his family and/or other people in the Syrian community about your cooking “their” food?

Syrians are an amazing group of people. They are warm, hospitable, funny, laid-back, caring, fiercely patriotic, proud of their culture, and humble all at the same time. Every time I’ve ever gone to Syria I’ve been impressed by this again and again. The Syrian people have been so genuinely kind to me, and have always shown great interest in me as a person, as well as in life in the U.S. and how it compares with life in Syria; no detail is spared in our conversations of culture. My authentic passion for their country, people, culture, and cuisine was a source of pride for them; they truly appreciated it and in turn reached out to me even more. Every question I asked about anything Syrian (food or not) was met with warm hospitality.

When I was learning to cook Syrian food they treated me as one of them, allowing me to work right alongside them, learning as I went and congratulating me on even the smallest of accomplishments. They were incredibly proud of the interest I took in their cuisine.

I’m a big believer in food diplomacy – that if you can get people to eat another person’s food it goes a long way to opening doors of conversation and understanding. Have you experienced this? Can you tell us about a situation where this happened?

During my time spent in the Middle East I wanted to show my in-laws that I was open to and accepting of their culture. I tried to keep an open mind about everything, especially food, since it’s something that’s such a huge part of their culture and they take great pride in it. This went a long way into helping me develop a wonderful relationship with my husband’s family. Every time I tried a new dish or found a new favorite, it made them immensely happy. Ironically, by the time Mike and I left the Middle East, I was eating a larger variety of Middle Eastern foods than he was since he’s such a picky eater (for example, he won’t touch eggplant but some of my favorite dishes are eggplant-based), and his mom would make certain dishes especially for me.

What is your favorite Syrian food?

Fried Eggplant(small)

 

Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing, not only because it is incredibly delicious and a perfect example of Syrian cuisine its simplicity, but also because of the story around it.

A few years ago I was in Zabadani, a rural area north of Damascus in Syria. My husband and I were staying with his family in their country home for a few days, and another family had come to visit. Of course a feast was in order.

My mother-in-law and the other ladies were busy all day making a variety of many different dishes. Out of all the foods served that day, a very simple fried eggplant dish with garlic and parsley dressing was by far my favorite. I had tasted eggplant before, but this was the dish that made me fall in love with it, and it was at that moment when my mother-in-law realized that my husband and I truly were perfect for each other. You see, my hubby hates eggplant in any form and my mother-in-law has always hoped he’d marry someone who loves it!

As I sat there ignoring almost every other dish on the table and gushing about this simple eggplant dish, Sahar sat there beaming. Reliving that memory in my mind every time I eat this dish is what makes it so meaningful for me.

What’s your least favorite? (I won’t touch organs!)

I actually can’t think of something I don’t like! Surprisingly, even the few dishes that I didn’t like at first have now become favorites and are regularly made in my kitchen. I think the only reason I didn’t like them to begin with is because I didn’t grow up eating them…and some dishes come as quite a surprise the first time around! For example, Jute Mallow Soup, which has a slimy texture and earthy flavor that is brightened with garlic and lemon. Also, when I first tried Yogurt Soup its tangy flavor wasn’t a favorite of mine, but I have grown so accustomed to it that I now crave it if I go for a long time without having it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I want to encourage people not to be intimidated just because a recipe, ingredient, or cooking method might be unfamiliar. For example, take my chicken shawarma recipe. I marinate chicken in a blend of seasonings and yogurt, and utilize a two-step cooking method that yields incredibly moist, flavorful chicken. I had an American cook tell me she was leery to use yogurt as a marinade for chicken, saying it sounded “weird” to her. (What she really meant was that she had never done it before and so she had no idea what to expect.) She ended up making the dish and not only has it become a favorite for her and her family, but it has also become a regular dinnertime staple. If you keep an open mind, you never know what new favorite you might discover.

Thank you so much Faith!

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, An Edible Mosaic is a great cookbook for anyone who wants to cook Middle Eastern food. I found the recipes to be very authentic, and easy to follow.  If you’re intimidated to try making this kind of food, this book will put you at ease. I enjoyed making several of these recipes that are not common in Morocco or found on the menu in Middle Eastern restaurants.  Make sure you connect with Faith on her website, Facebook and Twitter to find many more recipes!

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Over a year ago I stumbled across Global Table Adventure and was intrigued by the concept.  Essentially this blogger was eating around the world.  She started at A and each week cooked food from a different country.  To be honest, I started following because I wanted to know how long it would be before she gave up (when I found her site she had been going strong for awhile).  It felt like there were so many great blogs dropping off at that time and while I thoroughly enjoyed Global Table Adventure I kept thinking, “gosh I don’t want to like this too much because it will probably disappear.”  Good news – it’s still here!  Sasha does a great job bringing dishes from around the world to life and documenting her families experience eating.
 
Each day of the week has a theme, Monday – meal reviews from the previous week, Tuesday – travel day an intro to the new country, Wednesday – Menu for the week, Thursday – Technique, Friday – Fun.  What might be even more fun is the videos’ Sasha posts on YouTube of her daughter testing out foods. She’s so cute!  (Like this video from eating El Salvador – PS Sasha we are coffee table twins!) You really have to watch the videos – I think they are a great addition! .  What I love about this blog the most is that by the time Ava (Sasha’s daughter) is 5 she will have eaten at least one meal from every country in the world AND she’ll have a fantastic document of her childhood!
 

Please meet Sasha (and Ava too!)

 
Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.
 

 
Hello! I’m on a mission to celebrate our diverse and beautiful planet by cooking one meal for every country in the world – 195 Countries, 195 Meals, 195 Weeks. I like to say I’m hungry for peace. Each week I share all the recipes, tidbits about the countries, as well as reviews – including a video of my young daughter sampling the food – at GlobalTableAdventure.com. I like to share the good, the fun, and the downright silly. We’re now just past the halfway mark.
 
I decided to work alphabetically for two reasons. First, I didn’t want to show preference to any particular nation over another. It makes that little country you’ve never heard of just as important as the countries everyone knows. Second, it keeps the continents nicely shuffled, so that there is a good variety to the site over the course of the entire 195 weeks (nearly four years). If new countries are added during this project, I will include them in the Adventure.
 
On average I make 3-4 dishes per country. Sometimes I combine two countries in a week (this is a safeguard to build in vacation or sick time). When I combine countries I make less dishes per country – usually 2-3. The menus are sampler-style, meaning the dishes are representative of the flavors of that country, but not necessarily a cohesive collection meant to be eaten in one sitting. Sometimes a dish will actually be a spice blend or seasoning paste. For example, when I cooked Fiji, a nation dominated by Indian cuisine – a side effect of colonization, I put homemade curry powder on the menu.
 
Why did you start blogging?
 
Several things came together at once – I needed a creative outlet, my daughter was just starting out on solids, and I was thinking about all the negative things happening around the world. At the most basic – I wanted better for myself, my family, and the world.
 
For myself: I wanted a creative outlet that would help me out of my cooking rut. After moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma – after a lifetime of travel – I missed the food I grew up with – trying new dishes, new flavors. I am more landlocked in the Midwest than I’ve ever been before. Global Table Adventure has been a great way to continue learning and growing, while also being fortunate enough to stay home with my daughter.
 
For my family: I wanted to find a way to get my impossibly picky husband to eat better, especially since we had a daughter about to start solids. Children mimic parents and I find that dinner can be a a big struggle if one parent refuses to try certain foods. I also wanted my daughter to learn to appreciate other cultures, other ways. By growing up with one meal from every country in the world, her mind will naturally be curious and open.
 
For the world: The news would have you believe that there is nothing but war, poverty, and tragedy in the world. With so much focus on the negative, people tend to feel divided by their differences, instead of united by their similarities. I believe that Global Table Adventure’s uplifting focus on the food and culture of countries around the world will help people appreciate and come together over our common humanity. This is why I am dedicated to only sharing positive stories; there’s enough people focusing on the negative.
 
What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?
 
My mom used to give me pieces of her pie dough to make my own creations. There were no restrictions – I could put anything in my little pies …. spices from the cupboards, leftovers from the refrigerator, and whatever I could rummage up in the pantry. I loved, loved, loved the creativity. Of course, many times I went too far and my treats were inedible (apples, raisins, cereal and cayenne pepper, anyone?). Still, the bug to “create” with no fear of the outcome (or being “wrong”) took firm root in those early escapades.
 
Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?
 
Well, I suppose I could put some fancy answer about a celebrity chef or a movie, but here’s the truth… I can’t cook in a messy kitchen. I just can’t do it. My heart starts beating too fast and my skin begins to crawl. Part of the problem is that I have a small kitchen. My mom is the neatest person I know and, so, I channel her organizational skills at least once a day. Turns out I’m rather particular. For example, I don’t use round spice jars because they twist and turn, making it hard to find what I’m looking for – I use French Square spice jars instead. They stay put and the labels are always facing the right direction. Considering I have two entire drawers full of spices (one for grinds and one for whole spices), I can’t imagine what kind of mess I’d have otherwise. I must be doing something right because this last year I’ve received several comments on how much “neat stuff” I manage to tuck away inside my tiny kitchen. And I don’t mean gadgets – an item doesn’t make it past my door unless they serve more than one purpose. I don’t even have a microwave or a toaster (the stovetop and broiler work just fine and save me half my counter space).
 
Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc. Which recipe is this for you?
 
Probably my mom’s torta de riso – or rice cakes. She made them with fried onion, pork fat, fresh herbs, plenty of eggs, cheese, and day-old rice. There isn’t an exact recipe – she just throws it together and bakes until golden and slices in squares. I would eat this until my belly button popped out, if I could. Anyway, for some reason I just can’t get it to be as epic as her versions.
 
Which of your recipes is your favorite?
 
That’s like trying to pick a favorite child… impossible. I do have a section devoted to several favorites, however… (find them here!)
 
What was your least successful recipe attempt?
 
I have had a longstanding battle with yucca (aka cassava and manioc). Nearly any recipe I’ve tried with yucca – from any part of the world – has failed. I had to cook almost half the world before I finally got one of those recipes right. The recipe that finally worked? Cassava Fries. Yum.
 
Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?
 
I’m starting to think it’s my Middle Eastern coffee pot. :) Because I don’t have a microwave, I use it for everything… melting butter, reheating sauces, frothing hot milk, and so forth. It almost never makes it back in the cabinet, that’s how much I use it. I much prefer it to lugging out one of my heavy pots -even the smallest one is too big for these little jobs.
 
Last meal. What would yours be?
 
Today I’d go for ravioli, two cannoli, and a big red rooibos latte.
 

A super huge thank you to Sasha from me for this great interview and for this wonderful blog that has brought me so much joy, entertainment and smiles. I can’t wait for you to get to Morocco in the next few weeks!  You can follow Sasha on her blog, on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!

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FFFB: Yvonne of My Halal Kitchen

 
Chances are you’ve heard of Yvonne and My Halal Kitchen.  She’s a go to source for many Muslims (especially new Muslims) who are embracing a halal eating and overall lifestyle.  I have been a reader now for many years and enjoy so many of her recipes.  I love them because they are halal versions of many of the foods I grew up with.  I come from an Italian/Germanic/Scandinavian  background and was raised in the land of beer and sausage…not halal – not in any way.  Yvonne has made over many of these recipes! She also shares lifestyle, whole living information and spotlights great companies who fit into that lifestyle.  If you’re not a reader yet you will be!
 
yvonne maffei my halal kitchen
 

Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.

 
My Halal Kitchen is a food and cooking blog where I publish content that conforms to the halal dietary guidelines of readers, as well as those interested in all-natural, organic and sustainable farm to form information. Halal is the Arabic word for ‘permissible’ and can relate to food, dress, moral values, financial decisions and more. It’s a guideline for Muslims, followers of Islam, and is most likened to what kosher is for those who follow Jewish food and lifestyle guidelines.
On My Halal Kitchen I also strive to share ways readers can find halal products or to simply tell readers about kitchen tools, food documentaries and the latest information that I discover about the halal food industry and/or the food industry in general.
 

Why did you start blogging?

 
I love to teach what I know (which is also an integral part of Islam) so when I came to a point in my life where the timing was right and I was more than eager to begin my career as a food writer, I just did it. A lot of persuasion by family and friends helped, but ultimately I knew that it was right for me and something I had a burning passion to pursue.
 

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

 
I remember weekend nights when I had friends for sleepovers. My parents had the wonderful idea of keeping us girls entertained by helping bake cakes or cookies and other foods. It was so much fun and they made everything accessible and colorful for us. Cooking and being in the kitchen wasn’t seen as scary, intimidating or a chore; it was approached as a happy place to be and a great place to make memories.
 

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

 
Today when I’m in the kitchen I think about what readers would be interested to know and what cooking questions or problems I can answer or solve for them. It gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing that by what I’m cooking and later presenting in my classes, books or on my blog will actually be helpful to them. It’s what motivates me to do more.
 

 What is your favorite ingredient?

 
I have so many favorite ingredients, but the one ingredient (aside from sea salt) that seems to add something special to just about every savory dish is a fresh sprig of thyme. It enhances the flavor profile of things like poultry or roasted vegetables just enough to give off the delicate aroma that differentiates it from other herbs and spices.
 

Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc. Which recipe is this for you?

 
I’ve had so much practice re-creating both of my grandmothers’ traditional Sicilian and Puerto Rican dishes to make them with halal ingredients that although they may not be exactly the same, they’ve turned out really well and passed the test of family members. One recipe I’d like to continue perfecting is my Abuela’s recipe for pasteles, which are a sort of Puerto Rican tamale in which food is wrapped in banana leaves. They’re quite involved to make, but worth every minute.
 

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

 
I have a lot of favorite celebrity chefs for different reasons, since they are the ones who have taught me valuable lessons in the kitchen (i.e. Julia Child, Martha Stewart) but currently it’s a tie between two male chefs, Andreas Viestad and Jamie Oliver, for different reasons:
 
Andreas Viestad is a favorite because he inspires both my serious side and my culturally curious side, as well. His show, New Scandinavian cooking is so interesting to me that I’m always looking for more. Plus, he often cooks fish and game meat and has a great way of teaching about the natural beauty of Scandinavia. I just love it.
Jamie Oliver’s passion for real food and passing on his cooking knowledge to kids, parents and schools is something that inspires me to do what I do with our Muslim schools, too. His honesty and perseverance and tireless effort are something I can feel when seeing him in action and also because I know what a challenge it is to make changes in school food, I appreciate his efforts even more.
 

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

 
I love diversity so it’s hard to choose just one dish, but if I had to choose it would be my Sicilian roasted pepper salad only because I simply can’t believe how good they turn out roasted on a stove when I first learned how to roast them outdoors in Sicily. I never thought I’d be able to re-create that, but every time I make it I’m transported back to that memory.
 

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

 
I honestly haven’t had too many disasters, simply because I am adamant about not wasting food and have learned to salvage food in surprising ways, but I do remember the first time I made duck breast. The smell was very gamey and distracted me as I watched it fry in the pan and worry about how it might turn out. I cooked it thoroughly—a little too much and it turned out to be rubbery, but my husband ate it, anyway….poor guy.
 

Which kitchen tools couldn’t you live without?

 
Scissors in the kitchen- they are so useful since they can be used to chop herbs, slice pizza and open bags. They’re also so easy to clean and a lot safer to have with kids around than sharp knives that can be so dangerous.
 

Last meal. What would yours be?

 
Any combination of bread and cheese (i.e. pasta with cheese) whether it’s in the form of a rustic pizza, a grilled cheese sandwich or a creamy mac n’ cheese dish. It’s my ultimate comfort food and one that gives me memories of my childhood- simple times and precious moments with the people I’ve been the closest to in my life.
 

Anything else you’d like to add/share!

 
Thank you so much for the interview and for selecting me as someone you decided to include in your lovely blog. Keep up the great work!
 

You can visit Yvonne on her blog My Halal Kitchen, like her Facebook page and keep up with her on Twitter!

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FFFB: Olga of Mango & Tomato


 
Today I am so happy to share an interview with one of my favorite people.  Olga is a blogging friend who I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know in person.  Last May at Eat, Write, Retreat we got to know each other and have been chatting ever since.  I love her website because it’s a great mix of unique recipes and local info on Washington DC.  It’s kind of like a little trip down memory lane.  Oh and it’s loaded with really gorgeous pictures – she is such a talented photographer!  Meet Olga!
 

 

 

Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.

 
My blog documents my passion for food. It covers my original recipes, eating out adventures and culinary travels. I love sharing my creations with readers and be able to advise them where they would have an excellent meal out. It’s basically my food diary (but not the one where I write how many calories I’ve eaten!).
 

Why did you start blogging?

 
I started blogging to share anything and everything food related in my life with my family and friends. And then the readers came!
 

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

 
That’s a hard one. Not necessarily a true memory, but the story my parents have told me is that when I was really little, I would tell everyone who would listen how to make candy. Supposedly, I would say that all you need was water: stir it till you’ll have candy. I must have been 2 or 3 years old. A woman who overheard me on a bus asked my mom if this was true! Can you believe that?
 

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

 
Both my parents and grandparents cook. They hardly ever use recipes: instead, they use their imagination and what’s available. That’s exactly how I cook.
 

What is your favorite ingredient?

 
You can’t possibly make me choose just one. The things I always have around are garlic, onions, olive oil, and spices.
 

Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc. Which recipe is
this for you?

 
My mom makes amazing split pea soup. I tried recreating it a few times by memory and with her advise, but it just did not work. Luckily, Aviva shared her recipe for split soup and, amazingly, it was spot on!
 

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

 
I would love to have a meal with Ina Garten. I love that she makes accessible food in a very calm manner. You can tell she really loves what she does.
 

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

 
I typically don’t make the same thing more than once, but there are a few exceptions. One is the recipe I made while I was in Daring Bakers: flourless chocolate cake. Another is Shakshuka: it’s an egg and tomato dish. The best thing about the dish is that not only is it quick and filling, but you can vary it by adding different spices and extra vegetables.
 

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

 
I just made beef stroganoff for the first time ever with a few friends: it was so good. How can you go wrong with beef, mushrooms, shallots and sour cream served over egg noodles?
 

Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?

 
My chef’s knife is the one kitchen tool I use all the time. But I also love my microplane.
 

Last meal. What would yours be?

 
Let’s see: there would be a TON of food: Russian potato salad , sushi, steak, watermelon, dark chocolate, tomatoes, mangoes, pickled vegetables, smoked salmon…obviously I have a hard time narrowing down my choices.
 

Anything else you’d like to add/share

 
Thank you so much for choosing to interview me! If your readers would like more information, they can find me on my website Mango & Tomato, on Twitter (@mangotomato), Pinterest (mangotomato) or Facebook.

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FFFB: Shulie of Food Wanderings


 
It’s Friday so you know what that means.  It’s time for my favorite female food bloggers series!  Today’s interview is with Shulie Madnick of Food Wanderings.  Shulie describes herself as Indian-Jewish.  She grew up in Israel and has lived in the US for the last two decades. After we left Washington DC three years ago I found and met online, so many fun bloggers from that area!  I can’t tell you how much I wish we were still living in DC and I could get together with these fabulous ladies!  Shulie has a really great style, she’s a good storyteller and she has this lovely sense about her that makes me smile. Her photos are gorgeous and her recipes are always something I never would have thought of.  The combinations that she creates are mouthwatering but rarely ingredients I would have considered together.  I think you’ll love her style and recipes as much as me!
 

 

Meet Shulie!

 

Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.

Food Wanderings is a reflection of who I am and my background as an Indian, Israeli Jewess living in the US now more than half my life. I ‘spin’ (weave) stories as one dear friend & food blogger Deeba of Passionate about Baking put it.  The ‘spin’ was taken out of context, you got to see one of of Deeba’s comments to understand what she meant.
 

Why did you start blogging?

 
Throughout many years of dinners and holiday parties my friends, my son & husband urged me to write a cookbook intertwined with my food, cultural and childhood memories, I shared with them. Though not a cookbook but as my son was off to college I felt an urgency to document thoughts, stories and recipes for generations to come through launching Food Wanderings.
 

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

An assembly line growing up in my mom’s Indian kitchen, as we, all four sisters, had a ‘station’ in a cramped up table space with a task. Mine was rolling out the small dough balls into perfect round shapes.

 

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

 
Primarily my mom. I know you hear it often as we are all biased, but I am to date to meet someone as talented as her in the kitchen.

 

 What is your favorite ingredient?

 

Hmm many but if you have onions & garlic you can do a lot!

 

Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc.  Which recipe is this for you?

 
There are tricks to this puren poli, rolled out flat bread filled with sweetened chickpeas paste. My mom’s filling of sweetened chickpea paste never cracked through the rolled out dough. I’ve seen many and rolled out many but my mom always and still makes them to perfection. It tasted same whether cracked or not though.
 

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

 
I enjoy so many. Just recents: rooted for Chef Zakarian as my favorite chef on The Next Iron Chef. Had a really good meal in Boston couple weeks back at Russel House Tavern in Cambridge, MA Food was seasoned well.

 

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

 
I always make red lentil daal/dal/dahl. It is super healthy, low fat, super flavorful, packed with nutrients such as protein and dietary fibers. It is also super quick to make, could be frozen in batches and appropriate for every meal or just as a healthy snack it you get hungry but trying to avoid junk food.
 

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

 

While my favorite form of baking is with yeast I really do not like baking cookies. I find them too fussy although I like them along with my tea. I attempted macarons as well 1/2 of a third batch came out with feet. Honesty I absolutely adore & respect the skill that goes into macaron making & I do like the romantic notion of baking cookies around the holidays. So I attempt it once a year around this time.

 

Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?

 
My spatulas. Funnily enough.
 

Last meal.  What would yours be?

 
Indian food

 

Anything else you’d like to add/share!

 

We have food allergies and that made me hyper sensitive to what foods we consume. I try to buy at farmer’s market, fresh season and organic when possible.  I am far from perfect though.

 

I hope that you liked learning a little more about Shulie one of my favorite female food bloggers!  You can visit her blog Food Wanderings and follow her on Twitter.  You’ll be glad you did!

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FFFB: Sarah of Food Bridge


favorite female food bloggers

 

Long ago as I was pouring over blogs (because cookbooks were way too expensive for our budget at the time), I found Food Bridge.  The pictures drew me in but the stories captivated me.  This was a time when I wasn’t really sure how to express myself and the experiences I had.  My blog was a recipe index and my cooking skills were mediocre.  Oh how I wished I could write like Sarah. I bookmarked and visited her page daily for weeks watching and waiting for a new post.  Every new post allowed me to, if even for a brief moment escape from the normalcy that was my life.  Sarah’s life in Israel transcended the political and religious borders that seemed so cut and dry.  I also knew that her goal – that food can bridge the divide between people was true.  I’ve seen it, I live it.  Thank you Sarah.  I hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by her blog as much as I have.

Sarah Food Bridge

 

Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.

For a food blogger, I am often out of sync with the latest culinary trends; I am clueless about the best cookbooks, hottest chefs and must go restaurants. Instead, I focus on what endures, the culture and history of ethnic cuisine. My aim, as the title of my blog suggests, is food as a bridge between cultures as well as their relationship and similarities with one another. I also incorporate my other interests, including travel, edible wild plants, ethnobotany, photography and food science.

Why did you start blogging?

My first blog platform was blogger which I used to help publicize my Middle Eastern cooking workshops. I hoped it would act as an online business card, linking me to potential customers. It didn’t work as I expected. Blogging triggered a passion for writing and photography and teaching fell to the way side.

In time my blog linked me to like minded people as well as created new writing opportunities.

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

 

I wish I could say it was the smell of grandma’s butter cake on a Sunday morning or my mother’s slow cooked stew.  Instead I remember digging my little hands into a Cracker Jacks box anticipating the prize hidden within. I also recall hating a vast number of foods. Eggplants, cooked carrots, onions, garlic- all of them were on my untouchable list. Peas were beyond disgusting and I refused to eat them even under threat of no dessert. And liver…just the thought would make me gag.  I am reconciled with my kitchen repulsions and can even describe myself as a non picky eater.

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

 

I am mostly influenced by beautiful ingredients. I am ridiculous, falling in love with piles of parsley, burgundy plums and the scent of ripe mangoes. I always buy too much and arrive home with enough to supply an army. It’s wasteful and expensive. The solution is to send my husband out on the shopping expedition. He doesn’t meander very much from the list I give him.

What is your favorite ingredient?

 

Lemons. I love their versatility, zing and sun shiny color. I use lemon juice is instead of vinegar in vinaigrettes, marinades and sauces. Zest adds a bright citrus flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. One of my favorite drinks is lemonana, lemonade flavored with fresh mint sprigs.

Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc.  Which recipe is this for you?

 

My mom is a one hit wonder type of cook so not only can I not replicate her food she can’t either (which is fine since she ends up making another hit). She never follows recipes but just invents things along the way, combining ingredients from experience and innovation. One particularly memorable dish she prepared was chicken topped with sliced lemon and brown sugar. The sugar caramelized on the fruit so they were almost candied, infusing the chicken with lemony sweetness. I tried replicating this recipe but it is never quite how I remembered it.

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

 

I don’t watch food shows. I have never seen an episode of Master Chef, No Reservation or even the Food Network. It’s not that I try to avoid them. I simply don’t own a television and have no idea who the famous chefs are supposed to be. I do however read many cookbooks and would have to give Paula Wolfert celebrity status for her dedication, mastery and preservation of ethnic recipes.

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

 

I don’t really have a favorite. I have taste bud fatigue and get bored eating the same thing repeatedly. At home I do have about a dozen recipes which I make regularly including lahmacun, pasta Bolognese, chili con carne, meatballs with olives and preserved lemons, osh plov (Bukharan rice with carrots), kubba (semolina dumplings in lemony tomato soup) and spaghetti with anchovies and parsley.

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

 

It was a recipe for curried chicken with red lentils. It is truly unfortunate that red lentils lose their vibrant orange color and degrade into what looks like sewage sludge. I gave it to my kids to eat and they said “we’re not going to eat it until you do!” Not a chance.

Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?

 

My cast iron pan. I use it most often to sear meat, for shallow frying, caramelize onions and even to scramble eggs (I turn off the heat in the middle and the eggs continues to cook until set). I never put my cast iron pan away.

Last meal.  What would yours be?

Have no idea, not sure I want to think about it.

Anything else you’d like to add/share with my readers?

 

I have a large collection of cookbooks, many of them written by home cooks. The authors often have no professional knowledge of styling, photography or editing recipes. What they do have is a thorough knowledge of their family’s cuisine, whether it is Polish or Tunisian and a passion to share it with others.

———

I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Sarah.  Make sure to visit her blog, Food Bridge to see her writing in action and try some of her fantastic recipes.  You can also like her Facebook page.

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FFFB: Alicia of Weekly Greens

 

It’s time for my favorite female foodie bloggers Round Two!  Today I would love to introduce you to Alicia of Weekly Greens.  Alicia and I first met on Twitter as we prepared to attend Eat, Write, Retreat last May.  When we finally met in DC at the conference we realized how many similarities we had. We both were born and raised in the Midwest, each have two boys about the same age and both have a love and passion for passing on our love of food to our children.  I truly enjoyed meeting and spending time with Alicia and continue to enjoy her blog with each post.  I think that you’ll love her too!

 

With that please meet Alicia!

 

Alicia of Weekly Greens

 


Tell me a little bit about your blog and what you write about.

Weekly Greens is a collection of recipes using fresh, healthy foods geared towards busy home cooks. I try to keep the themes seasonal and encourage my readers to use foods at their peak (and avoid them when out of season!). I weave in stories from my own life as a busy working mom of two young boys and wife of one big boy. My hope is that through my recipes and stories, I can demystify home cooking and help my readers gain confidence in the kitchen.

 

Why did you start blogging?

I developed a very straightforward method of meal planning and grocery shopping – plan and shop once per week, eat fresh meals every weeknight. Though I was juggling two kids and a demanding job, this system worked well for me. I had friends ask if they could just use my shopping list. It occurred to me that if I shared my plan, the recipes and the list, I’d be taking a lot of the guesswork out of weeknight cooking and that I might actually be able to help people who want to cook get over that hurdle. I wrote my first post in October 2010 and have been at it ever since!

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

When I was growing up, my mother was frequently in the kitchen. A skilled cook and baker, she not only made meals each weeknight that we shared together as a family, she baked as a hobby. We almost always had a batch of homemade cookies in the house. During holidays, she would bake dozens upon dozens of cookies and make candies of all kinds to give away. My first memories in the kitchen are probably related to those marathon holiday baking sessions. Some years, she’d literally make one different kind of cookie per day from Thanksgiving until Christmas. It was madness!

 

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

My comfort and ease in the kitchen came from my mother. But these days, I am heavily influenced by my family and what they like to eat. My husband might laugh out loud at that because he thinks I don’t make enough of the things he loves – turkey tacos with prepared seasoning packets and pasta with Ragu sauce. I try to make dishes we’ll all enjoy while at the same time expanding the palates of my young boys. I think it’s important to expose them to a variety of flavors and textures while they’re young. I don’t expect that they’ll eat everything, but I do want them to at least take a taste. Often, they are happily surprised by foods they thought they didn’t like.

What is your favorite ingredient

Lately, I’m a fool for Greek yogurt. I eat it plain, or top it with berries and a few nuts for breakfast. It makes creamy soups without the heaviness of cream. It also makes beautiful, protein-rich smoothies. My kids love a morning smoothie and they don’t need to know that it’s good for them, too. I also use Greek yogurt to top dishes that might typically include sour cream, like chili or baked potatoes. The creaminess is perfect and there is also an extra tang I just love.

 

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

I have to admit that I don’t pay much attention to what celebrity chefs are doing! I don’t watch food TV and so I’m not up to date on who’s who. I will say that I am much more inspired by home cooks, perhaps because I can identify with them a bit more.

 

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

I spend a lot of time making foods that one would typically enjoy for dinner. However, I love to play around and create my own recipes when time allows. A lot of the time, these recipes are snacks, breakfast or treats. Last summer, I went crazy making homemade ice pops. I really liked this watermelon variety.  They were fun to make with the kids, quite tasty and they froze into this beautiful two-toned pop. I didn’t even mean to do that! This is the kind of recipe that is all fun and makes people happy.

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

I am not very good at working with dough. It makes me panic! I can follow a recipe to the letter and still manage to mess it up if making and working with dough is involved.

Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?

I use the microplane just about every day. I use a lot of citrus zest and it’s also terrific for just a touch of grated cheese to top a dish.

Last meal.  What would yours be?

Spinach lasagna with garlic bread, a huge green salad and a big glass of spicy, bold red wine

My favorite recipes from Alicia:

 

If you want to follow Alicia (and you should) visit her blog, fan her Facebook page, and on Twitter!

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FFFB: Kathy of The Colors of Indian Cooking


It’s time to start sharing my favorite female food bloggers!  I know I said that it would be a 2012 edition but I had to get started just a few days early because I was so excited.  (Hey, I never was good with the whole patience thing).  So today I would like to introduce you to Kathy of The Colors of Indian Cooking.  I found Kathy’s blog through Twitter (really did you think it would have been somewhere else?)  We’ve shared conversations and I’ve drooled over more of her recipes than I can count.  In the last two years I turned my husband into a lover of Indian food – thanks in part to Kathy’s fantastic recipes.

So without further adieu – Meet Kathy!

Tell us a little bit about your blog and what you write about

My blog is called The Colors Of Indian Cooking. I write about my 21 year experience of cooking healthy Indian food. Most of my recipes are low fat and feature seasonal foods. In the last several years I’ve been concentrating on the food of South India with a focus on vegetarian /vegan cooking and now more gluten free options because several friends of mine have been diagnosed with celiac disease.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging about 2 and 1/2 years ago while I was doing a podcast for A Million Cooks. The podcasts were too short to feature an entire recipe with all the directions etc, so I decided to add a blog. 2 and 1/2 years later I’m no longer doing the podcasts but the blog is going strong.

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen?

My earliest memory of the kitchen was being carried into the kitchen of a relative’s Italian restaurant. I must have been about 4 and was mightily impressed with all the food smells and delicious bites the kitchen staff gave me to eat.

Who or what influences you in the kitchen today?

I’ve been very influenced by chef and cookbook author Paula Wolfert. We became good friends when we moved to Sonoma 6 years ago. She’s been a real mentor to me. She was the one who got me started slow cooking my Indian food in clay. In fact she gave me my very first clay pot. She’s been very supportive of what I’m doing with the blog. She even put one of my recipes into her cookbook last year. One of the reasons I admire her is for her ability to take a food culture that she was not born into (Moroccan food) and embrace it and share her love of it with others. As a non-Indian learning about and cooking Indian food, she’s been a great example for me.

What is your favorite ingredient?

I could not cook with out my cilantro!

Everyone has a favorite recipe that we just can’t re-create the same way as our mom, grandma etc. Which recipe is this for you?

I’m Italian, and both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks. There’s one thing that I’ve so far been unable to re-create and that is my mother’s mothers meringue cookies. They totally intimidate me. Someday I’ll master them.

Who is your favorite “famous/celebrity” chef and why?

I admire Rick Bayless for his ability to embrace a food and culture that is not natively his own.

Which of your recipes is your favorite?

That is like asking a mom which of her children she loves best. I could never choose, as I’m always exploring.

What was your least successful recipe attempt?

Never mention cream puffs in my kitchen.

Which kitchen tool couldn’t you live without?

My Santoku knife, when one cooks with as many vegetables as I do it’s a must!

Last meal. What would yours be?

Something not yet grown on this planet

What other inspiration would you like to share?

I’d love to see more non-Indians experiment with Indian dishes and learning about the wonderful food culture of this great country. Indian food is very easy to make in the American kitchen. Nearly all the spices are available at most supermarkets, or Asian or Hispanic groceries. If I could say anything it would be, give it a try, you’ll have fun.

I hope that you will love Kathy’s blog as much as I do!  Make sure to stop and visit The Colors of Indian Cooking - also connect with her on Twitter @kathygori.  If you’ve got more questions for her leave me a comment here!

Here are two of my favorite recipes from Kathy;  Panner (Indian cheese) so easy!  Pumpkin Curry a really creative and delicious dish.

 Next week I’ll be introducing another favorite …any idea who it might be?

 

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