Eric Gower found a calling in food as an economics writer living in Japan. Now he's a private chef in San Francisco, and the author of three cookbooks.
The latest, The Breakaway Cook: Recipes That Break Away from the Ordinary (William Morrow) focuses on flavor. Call it simplified fusion - fewer novelty pairings, more sensible seasoning.
Whether sprinkling maccha salt (sea salt and powdered green tea) on poached eggs, braising duck legs with pickled plums and plum wine, or pan-frying flank steak with an Indian-inspired spice crust, his global approach to flavor is inspiring.
Here's a mild starting point.
Breakaway Kofta(Makes 3 to 4 servings)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 pound ground lamb, beef or a combination
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh mint leaves, shredded fine
1. Heat the broiler and in a small dry skillet on medium heat, toast the coriander and star anise until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a grinder, add the cinnamon, and pulverize to a fine powder. (Sift out any coarse bits.)
2. In the same pan, on medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Saute the onion and spices until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses; saute 2 minutes more.
3. In a bowl, mix the meat, onion and egg. Form 3 or 4 portions. The classic is sausage-shaped kebabs (on skewers) but patties are fine. Dust with salt and pepper.
4. Cook kofta in a broiler pan, close to the heat (within 5 inches) until well crisped, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip and broil the other side, 5 minutes more. Top with mint.
Per serving (based on 4): 429 calories, 21 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 35 grams fat, 144 milligrams cholesterol, 88 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.