In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, there's a street closed off to traffic, lined with shops and filled with people enjoying drinks with friends at small tables set up here and there. Along that street, the name of which I can't remember, we found a wonderful bookstore café that had a large selection of cookbooks, including one with English translation. And in that cookbook was a recipe for lambe-lambe, the kind of un-fancy shellfish and rice dish you'd eat while sitting on the beach at sunset, with your toes in the sand. Part travelogue, part love letter to Brazilian cuisine, Caiçara Cooking: Flavor Between Mountain and Sea (published in 2007) features mouth-watering photos plus recipes in Portuguese, though the translations leave a bit to the imagination. This... Read more →

What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →

"What makes these taste so good?" my husband Ted asked, after the first bite of these mushroom quesadillas with goat cheese and greens went dribbling down his chin. I started to explain about the gooey, melty goat cheese and how it holds the greens together while they wilt from the heat, but he didn't care. He was halfway through the quesadilla by then, bite after oozy bite. Nontraditional though they are, these quesadillas bundle the texture of mushrooms (sautéed to remove most of their excess liquid) with smooth goat cheese and a hint of dark leafy greens (use your favorite, spinach or kale or chard). I like to keep the theme going with spinach tortillas, though you can use whatever type of tortilla you like.... Read more →

I'm grateful to slow cooker manufacturers everywhere for not actually building the airtight appliances they intended to build. Nothing makes me happier than the house filling with the aroma, escaping from under the lid, of whatever is gently cooking in the pot for many hours. A recipe like this Tex-Mex chicken and rice, with corn and black beans tucked here and there, can cook on the stovetop, but in the slow cooker, the flavors have a chance to intermingle on their own (without tending by you), and the musky scent of cumin warms up the kitchen as it cooks. You'll find jars of sofrito in the Spanish foods section of your supermarket. If you use converted rice, you can cook rice right in with the... Read more →