Easy to be a world cook
New cookbook highlights the Earth's signature dishes.
Flash back to 1967, the year cookbook author David Joachim was born. Craig Claiborne wrote a recipe in the New York Times for "Mediterranean fish," which called for tahini. Back in those days, only two small shops in America's largest city stocked it.
Today, "we have all these great flavors under your nose," says Joachim, who provides a worldwide cooking tour in his newest book, Cooking Light Global Kitchen, The World's Most Delicious Food Made Easy (Oxmoor House).
It's easier than ever for a home cook to attempt a vast repertoire of international cuisine, he says, as the options on our grocery shelves have expanded with specialty ingredients from all over.
Global Kitchen is a "greatest-hits album," with dishes from countries around the world. In all cases, the dishes are nationally eaten. "It's not a book of culinary mash-ups," he says. "This book is focused on bringing the world's signature dishes to American cooks."
Fresh spring rolls, vegetable samosas, bibimbap ... masaman curry, coconut-marinated pork, chicken larb ... empanadas, Ecuadoran potato-and-cheese patties, Peruvian sarsa salad ... beef bourguignon, Polish cabbage rolls, Hungarian goulash.
Joachim, who lives in the Lehigh Valley, says he bought every single item in his local market, at Wegmans or Whole Foods. Nothing over the Internet.
"You go to the supermarket. Any supermarket. There's a whole aisle of Greek yogurt! Do something with it," Joachim says. The chopped fennel fronds for the Fennel-Cured Halibut Gravlax? Not a problem to obtain in 2014.
Joachim has written or contributed to 40 cookbooks over the years, including those by Marc Vetri and Jeff Michaud.
"My goal was to basically get people out of the cooking rut," Joachim says.
Cooking Light magazine invited Joachim to comb through its archives and choose "the best of the best" for a single book. He chose 120 of the most authentic, highest-reader-rated recipes, then developed 30 additional recipes of his own to fill in the gaps.
The book organizes the recipes according to six regions of the world, East Asia and India, Southeast Asia and Australia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe and Eurasia, South America, and North and Central America, offering an introduction to cooking authentic yet approachable versions of each region's cuisines.
"Cooking another country's food can expand your sense of taste and may even improve your health," Joachim writes in his introduction. "It can also broaden your horizons by giving you a deeper understanding of your own culture."
Risotto With Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone
Makes 4 servings
2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 cup uncooked arborio rice or other short-grain rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce mascarpone cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 11/2 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.
2. Bring soaking liquid and broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth mixture warm over low heat.
3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots, and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).
4. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper; stir until cheese melts. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon mascarpone and thyme leaves, if desired.
Note: Dried porcinis make this rice dish easy to make, but if you're lucky enough to have some fresh porcinis, saute them and mix them into the risotto near the end of cooking.
Per serving: 286 calories; 9 grams protein; 49 grams carbohydrates; no sugar; 3 grams fat; 9 milligrams cholesterol; 558 milligrams sodium; 3 grams dietary fiber.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Makes 8 servings
For the rolls:
8 (8-inch) round sheets rice paper
2 cups thinly sliced Bibb lettuce leaves (about 4 large)
2 cups cooked bean threads (cellophane noodles)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 large)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
1. To prepare rolls, add hot water to a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch. Place 1 rice paper sheet in dish, and let stand 30 seconds or just until soft. Place sheet on a flat surface. Arrange 1/4 cup lettuce over half of sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with 1/4 cup bean threads, 2 tablespoons sprouts, 2 tablespoons carrot, 1 tablespoon mint, 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, and 11/2 teaspoons green onions. Fold sides of sheet over filling and, starting with filled side, roll up jelly-roll fashion. Gently press seam to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a serving platter (cover to keep from drying). Repeat procedure with remaining roll ingredients.
2. To prepare sauce, combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Serve sauce with rolls.
The World's Most Delicious Food Made Easy,
by David Joachim (Oxmoor House, 2014)
Per serving: 83 calories; 2 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; trace grams fat; no cholesterol; 371 milligrams sodium; 1 gram dietary fiber.
Chicken Tabbouleh With Tahini Drizzle
Makes 4 servings
11/4 cups water
1 cup uncooked bulgur, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chopped tomato
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup plain 2 percent reduced-fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1. Combine 11/4 cups water, bulgur, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes (do not stir) or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Place bulgur in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Saute 4 minutes on each side or until done; shred chicken. Combine bulgur, chicken, tomato, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl; toss gently.
3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, tahini, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad.
The World's Most Delicious Food Made Easy, by David Joachim (Oxmoor House, 2014)
Per serving: 395 calories; 22 grams protein; 41 grams carbohydrates; 18 grams fat; 48 milligrams cholesterol; 573 milligrams sodium; 11 grams dietary fiber.