Parade’s Community Table: Maria Zihammou’s Butter-Rich ‘French Bistro’ Cookbook

Vinegar Chicken. Photo by Åsa Dahlgren

Vinegar Chicken. Photo by Åsa Dahlgren

Don’t have an American heart attack when I reveal this simple truth about food: Rich and memorable recipes start with butter. It’s why I’m loving Maria Zihammou’s new cookbook, French Bistro. It goes after my heart, and it also demonstrates how to enjoy French homestyle seasonal and fresh ingredients in a beautifully designed cookbook with photographs and illustrations reflecting glimpses of Zihammou’s life in one of the world’s most romantic cities.

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Provençal-Inspired Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Provincial-Inspired Roast Chicken

Lavender isn’t traditionally an African ingredient (at far as I know). The best is grown in France, where it’s mixed in an Herbs de Provence blend of thyme, savory, rosemary and other herbs. It also nicely pairs with sweet potatoes, a starchy root vegetable, in which African slaves who were brought to the Americans, found to be similar to their native yams. Serve this dish with Broccoli and Freekeh Pilaf or Brazilian/Stir-Fry Style Collard Greens.

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Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced benny) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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The Banality of Broccoli

Broccoli and Freekeh Salad

Broccoli is (le sigh) a common green vegetable. For people who are unfamiliar with food, it’s a safe vegetable to cook. As a premier healthy vegetable, it’s more likely to be dropped in everyone’s shopping cart. A carnivore restaurant includes it in their vegetarian menu. As a home cook, I walk pass it in the grocery store, because there are exotic vegetables to discover.

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The Magic of Fresh Pasta

Rosemary Chicken Stew with Stir-Fried Collard Greens

Besides being known for its Italian style-New York pizza, Saraghina recently opened a new bakery. Essential Italian pantry items, such as bread, morning pastries, olive oil by the pound, spices, cheese, candy and more, are the shop’s speciality. It’s freshly made pasta by the pound is the star. Having access to fresh pasta close to my apartment is a game changer in my menu planning. It means serving dinners made elegant with fresh pasta, and the meals aren’t time consuming. Ironically, the first recipe using Saraghina Bakery’s pasta was a time-consuming Rosemary Chicken Stew with Stir-Fried Collard Greens.

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