Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines. It’s also becoming quite trendy. In New York, Whole Foods has even included a hot bar/buffet of Indian Food in their prepared food section. There is still room for improvement in the quality of mainstream Indian food but I think my grandmother would have been as pleased as I am to see this flavorful cuisine take off. There are a few Indian style recipes in her book, “The Art of Good Cooking,” such as Curried Carrots and Peppers and Indian Beef Curry which I’ve done for this blog. Like many of her international recipes, these were unique and practically ground breaking when they were written in the 1960’s – before what some may consider the food revolution. The availability of spices like ground coriander, turmeric, cumin seeds, or garam masala have come a long way since then. I, however; didn’t begin to enjoy Indian food until my late teens when my step mother introduced healthy and flavorful north Indian style recipes such as this vegan coconut green bean and peas dish.
This dish combines two of my favorite things: seafood and tacos. I’m not sure when I became such a huge fan of seafood. Maybe the lack of availability in Minnesota, where I grew up, made me appreciate it more once I moved to the East Coast. I now cook with seafood any chance I get, especially if the seafood is caught locally or by someone I know. And this is exactly how I came up with these scallop tacos with avocado salsa verde and cumin scented slaw recipe.
The north fork of Long Island is full of wonderful fish and seafood from the surrounding Peconic bay and Long Island Sound. I often look forward to long days of clamming in the summertime or slurping fresh oysters in late fall. This year there was an abundance of bay scallops in wintertime. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to cook with these at my father’s place out on the North Fork. These fresh little bites of the sea are so tender and sweet. They are perfect in salads, soups, stews, or just by themselves but paired with creamy avocado and tangy tomatillos, they really come alive.
Pasta has become a classic American staple. It’s origin maybe Italian but in the past 50 years, it’s become one of the go-to easy dinners that many families enjoy at least once a week. My grandmother didn’t have many pasta recipes. The few that she had remained part of her unpublished recipe set that she developed later in her career. The trendiest dishes of the 1960’s, when her cookbooks were written, were of mostly of French origin. The pasta explosion came later. Even so, it’s become so common that there are many pasta dishes that can now be considered classics. These include dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese, lasagna, and some cases chicken parmesan (or parmigiana). In most Italian red-sauce restaurants, the chicken is really the focus of this dish and pasta is really a side, if included at all. I’ve always preferred a more equal balance of protein and pasta. And although I enjoy a good chicken parm, I am also a seafood lover and found this deconstructed shrimp parmesan to be the perfect lighter alternative to the original red-sauce classic.
Quesadillas have become somewhat of a Mexican American/Tex-Mex classic. The concept of a two tortillas sandwiched together with melted cheese couldn’t be simpler. Unfortunately, this common appetizer isn’t usually as healthy as it is simple. Arguably the most popular versions include a large amount of cheddar cheese, possibly some meat or chicken, and sides of both salsa and sour cream for dipping. Sure it’s delicious but why not take that same concept and make a healthier spring version? That was the idea behind this light and flavorful veggie-packed quesadilla.
If there’s one type of cuisine my grandmother knew well, it’s Mexican. She and my grandfather took frequent trips to Mexico. While my father and uncle were off misbehaving, my grandmother explored the vibrant crafts and flavorful foods. She learned how to cook both traditional and untraditional dishes, adding her own twist when they returned to New York. Eggs Jalisco is an example of just that: traditional Mexican flavors with a twist …two twists actually because I couldn’t help but add fresh avocado and tomato as well.