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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why do YOU cook, Maria Speck?

I met Maria Speck, the Grain Gourmet on Twitter where her recipe tweets piqued my curiosity. She grew up in both Germany and Greece and shares her recipes and mostly Mediterranean techniques for cooking with whole grains in ways you might not expect. In her beautiful new cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals , you'll find cakes from quinoa and smoked trout, an easy crust from cooked polenta, a hearty frittata with wild rice and wheat berry "fool" with figs. Her recipes will surely broaden your horizons as much as they tempt your tastebuds. It all started with a small bag of wheat berries someone handed me at a cemetery in Greece during a ceremony to mark the recent death of my grandfather. I was six years old and hungry. While I scooped up the mixture of cinnamon and cumin-scented grains, chewing on their succulent starchy centers, interspersed with chunks of roasted walnuts and sugarcoated almonds-I became completely oblivious to the crushing sadness all around ...
Monday, May 02, 2011

Mexican Cheese Primer

Mexican cheese is readily available where I live, not expensive and yet I admit, I am often bewildered when I go to buy it. What's the difference between Cotija and Queso Anejo? Will Panela melt or crumble? If Quesadilla cheese is good for quesadillas, is Enchilado cheese for enchiladas? I have finally made sense of Mexican cheeses, thanks to lots of great information from the California Milk Advisory Board and some generous samples from Cacique, the largest Hispanic cheese brand in the US. Cacique has very detailed descriptions of all their cheeses as well as recipes when you're ready to dig in even further. Don't be afraid to buy Mexican cheeses because you are not sure what to do with them. They are actually very easy to use and enjoy and often available in supermarkets. And they can be used in all kinds of dishes, not just traditional Mexican cuisine. Many are similar to cheeses you already know, like feta or mozzarella. It was the Spaniards who introduced cows a...