A Vegetarian Moroccan Stew To Savor

Mediterranean comfort food like this aromatic Moroccan stew makes a cheering antidote to January’s short days and roller coaster weather.

In Morocco, dishes like this show the difference between using a combination of spices like cumin, paprika, cinnamon and ginger to create comforting warmth rather than the fiery heat of chile peppers. When local cooks shared their recipes, I was stunned by the amount of spices they called for. And the liberal amounts of onions, parsley, and cilantro they use, as well. Simmered together, they blend exquisitely, giving Moroccan cooking robust, complex flavor.

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Tagines are an almost infinite variety of Moroccan stews. They are also the clay pot in which a tagine is made. Steam rises as these stews cook, hitting the convex sides of its cone-shaped top. The steam then condenses and falls back into the simmering food. This concentrates its flavors and keeps the dish succulent. I love using the tagines I hauled back from Morocco. Continue reading

How you can cook up cancer-fighting broccoli rabe (rapini or raab)

After many years of writing about new ideas and unexpected ways to enjoy familiar foods to appear in print, I am now sharing them as a blog. If you already know my Something Different recipes, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing them in living color and with even more detail. If it these recipes are catching your eye for the first time, welcome.

As a food writer, I get invited to some intriguing events. One of my favorites last year featured not Champagne, posh chocolates, or over-the-top desserts. It starred broccoli rabe, aka rapini, raab, and cima di rape.

Broccoli rabe’s distinctive, bitter and pungent taste is not for everyone, but at this event the family that distributes most of the rabe grown commercially in the U.S. served up dishes with wide appeal. Some were authentically Italian, like arancini, fried rice and cheese balls, filled with broccoli rabe, or a colorful combo of roasted potatoes and roasted rabe drizzled with lemon. More surprising was a vivid smoothie blending broccoli rabe with apple, banana, pineapple juice and yogurt.

But best of all was pasta tossed with broccoli rabe pesto.

Broccoli Rabe Fusilli-05At home, I tweaked the irresistible pesto to suit my taste, using less oil and sharp pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese instead of Parmesan. This also made it better combined with the taste of whole-wheat pasta. Plus I topped my version with juicy cherry tomatoes rolled in a hot skillet until they sizzle and burst. Continue reading

High-School SuperFoods Winner, trying new foods and fusion

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It’s that time of year, again. The dishes are in and the judges have made their decision; first place goes to… New York City’s Kristopher Lopez, whose execution of Faux –lafels proved to be a hit!

The AICR Healthy Recipe C-CAP Winner 2015For the last three years now, AICR has partnered with the C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Programs) for their annual cooking competition. High school students enrolled in vocational culinary programs are encouraged to submit a recipe, given specific guidelines, in the hopes that they will have the winning recipe. This year students created small plates or appetizers that followed AICR’s evidence-based guidelines for lowering cancer risk.

Here, Kristopher shares his experience in the competition, what inspires him, and his plans for the future.

Was it challenging to develop a dish given AICR’s nutrition guidelines?

Yes, it was a little challenging because I was asked to work with ingredients that I was unfamiliar with and that I don’t really deal with coming from a Puerto Rican background. The development process involved a lot of research of ingredients as well as trial and error. Continue reading