Aliza Green

Chef | Consultant | Author

First Christian Church

How and Why I Cook

Aliza at Vegan Cooking Class 05 23 15I cook to make people happy:

Sharing a meal is a sacred act that brings people together, encourages conversation, and helps us relax, digest, and take pleasure in the small joys of civilized everyday life: friendship, good food, lively discussion, and maybe a bottle of wine to share. Food that calls too much attention to itself and demands quiet adulation gets in the way of lusty enjoyment.

I cook on the spot:20

I am inspired to cook food from places that I’ve traveled to or have had the opportunity to learn directly from local cooks. Earlier in my career, as chef of a Northern Italian restaurant, I studied Italian for five years to connect with Italian culinarians and learn their stories and culinary secrets. In my cooking, I emphasize food from the Mediterranean region, especially Greece and Turkey, where I’ve studied cooking;; from Tunisia and Morocco, cuisine that I learned by working with local chefs; from Mexico where I lived in my early teens: from Israel where I attended first grade; and from Brazil, India, and the Caribbean, all places where I’ve had the opportunity to travel and cook.

I believe food should look like what it is, not something else:

To me, presentation should showcase the essence of the food, not because of elaborate plate-painting and arranging food with surgical tweezers. Too many hands and too much fussiness get in the way of flavor and simplicity. I avoid plate painting, complex plate designs, tiny, precisely-cut vegetables, and molded food. Instead I might cook whole lamb shoulder on the bone, rub it with homemade Ras el Hanout spice then slow-roast it, pull it from the bone and serve it surrounding a whole roasted lamb shoulder on the bone.

Make it, don’t fake it:

At Baba Olga’s Cafe & Supper Club, where I serve as chef, we make all our own foods including hors d’oeuvres, desserts, sauces, stocks, even our own spice and herb blends. The vanilla in our baked goods comes from vanilla beans that we soak in rum. The flavorful butter comes from Vermont, famed for its high-quality dairy products, and our eggs are brown shell that we crack (never from a carton). We ripen our fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and peaches to increase juiciness and flavor. I avoid purchasing processed foods so, as many people comment, “our food tastes clean.” Oil is extra-virgin olive or canola for light, fruity flavor.

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For our own health and the health of our planet’s environment, I aim to cook and eat deliciously healthy by serving foods that are 80 percent vegetable and legume based and 20 percent animal protein. I emphasize local vegetables, greens, legumes, and fruits. My first book, The Bean Bible published in 2000 was an early look at the amazing variety of flavors, colors, and shapes of legumes. Beans are beneficial to our health and put needed nitrogen back into the soil and we should all be eating more of them and less red meat. So, I make dishes like red lentil cakes with date-tamarind chutney, hummus with chipotle, and Moroccan white bean and tuna salad with chermoula.

I cook food with roots:

My cooking is inspired by traditional foods in many parts of the world, often the food of women who pass down their knowledge from generation to generation. I avoid arbitrary combinations and foods with too many, often unrelated components. Foods have a reason that they go together—basil and tomato, beans and greens, lamb and mint, lemon and olive oil–for the sake of the garden the palate and for ease of digestion so you won’t leave feeling uncomfortably overstuffed.

I cook seasonally and locally:

While I live in a part of the country with cold winters, so our growing season is not year-round, I work with as many local farms as possible, something I’ve been doing as a chef since 1980.  We work closely with Common Market, a local aggregator of foods from farms in the Tri-State region, Green Meadow Farm in Gap, Pennsylvania, who I’ve been buying from since the late 80s, and from the closest farm of all, Heritage Farm, on the grounds of the Methodist Home for Children on Belmont Avenue. I serve only local strawberries when they are in-season so they are a late spring treat rather than more of the same commercial berries shipped unripe across-country.

I aim to be creative with trimmings and by-product:

I do my best to use every part of the food in the interest of environmental awareness and lower food costs, which allows me to buy the best quality ingredients and keep prices reasonable. We treat the food with respect and don’t waste it. So, chard leaves are cooked as greens while the stems become part of our Greek vegetable Briami; corn kernels are cut off the cob while the cobs go into the pot to make sweet, golden corn cob stock for soup; herb stems are saved for soups and stews, while the leaves flavor and add shape and color to finished dishes;; chicken trimmings become stock while its fat is rendered to make chicken schmaltz.

Leftovers are an opportunity to make new culinary delights:

One of the tests of a chef is how well he/she can turn excess of one dish or its components into a wonderful new dish. So, I roast mushrooms for a warm mushroom salad and turn leftover mushrooms into a rich filling for our hand-formed mushroom fillo turnovers. Prosciutto is sliced for salad and other appetizers, the valuable skin and fat are simmered with red beans to make Caribbean style red beans and rice or Tuscan white bean soup.

Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry 12 12 15Preserving allows me to work with high-quality local ingredients out of season:

I pickle vegetables like Roma beans, okra, and mushrooms to serve on mezze and antipasto trays. To build up my stash for winter, I freeze things like corn kernels cut off the cob, raspberries and blackberries, and even local tomatoes. We use tomato juice pressed from local tomatoes and packed in glass jars throughout the year.

The uglier the produce, the better it tastes:

Lumpy produce with bad spots here and there that must be trimmed will be the best tasting, ripest produce. I buy large quantities of deliciously colorful heirloom tomato seconds to make into tomato-basil sauce which we freeze and then use in our catering menus and for other dishes where that taste of summer is so welcome in cold weather months.

I focus on environment awareness:

I cut down on waste by using every part of the product, save all our food scraps for compostAncient  Grains Salading, use compostable, recyclable paper goods, serve filtered rather than bottle water, buy local so shipping distances are less, and work to serve foods lower on the food chain, which require less water and other natural resources to produce.The fish I purchase is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified. The meats I serve are sustainable and come from smaller local farms.

Calling all Spice Lovers! Aliza’s new book, The Magic of Spice Blends, out December 1st

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Spices are the foundation of flavor and are used in virtually every recipe in every home around the world, yet many  cooks are intimidated by how to choose and use spices to enhance their cooking. My new book, The Magic of Spice Blends, is an authoritative, global overview of spice blends, including background information on individual spices and how to create and adapt classic blends to suit your personal taste without losing their essential character. Here I provide a fully-illustrated guide to spices, creating 50 spice blends and 50 recipes using flavor profiles from around the world. A pinch of this and a dash of that, and you’ll be creating distinctive and delectable flavors in every dish!

Today, more than ever, we have access to almost every spice and herb imaginable. But it’s the careful blending of herbs and spices that is the true art of the spice handler.

The Magic of Spice Blends reveals the secrets of creating and cooking with the world’s classic spice blends from seven regions: Africa, the Far East, Europe, India, the Middle East, North America and the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.

I guide you through the principles of choosing, working with, and blending spices. Join the fun of creating personalized spice and herb blends and knowing just what goes into them—no ancient, bitter, musty dust here! Find resources on where to purchase great quality herbs and spices, even organic, non-irradiated.  You can even grow your own and use them to make those wonderful spice blends.

Along with background information on the history, culture, and culinary uses of each blend, The Magic  of Spice Blends includes recipes and variations for 50 spice blends and an additional 50 recipes featuring blends including: Spicy Moroccan Steamed Mussels with Charmoula (Africa); Vietnamese Chicken Bahn Mi Sandwich with Chinese Five Spice; Swedish Gingerbread Cookies (Europe); Grilled Vadouvan Salmon with Date Tamarind Chutney (India): Watermelon, Labne, and Mint Salad with Lime Advieh Dressing (the Middle East); Louisiana Spicy Boiled Crayfish (North America); and Jerk-Spiced Turkey Wings (the Caribbean).

The Magic of Spice Blends is available for pre-order on Amazon right now and will be in bookstores starting December 1st.

Essential Spice Techniques

Magic of Spice Blends Cover Image 02 04 15Take a look at these Essential Spice Techniques quick spice techniques from my next book, The Magic of Spice Blends. The book will be published on November 1 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

A Brazilian Feast to Celebrate the Painted Bride Art Center’s Anniversary

This spring, I had the pleasure of creating a Brazilian menu for the Painted Bride’s 46th Anniversary Celebration held at Material Culture in East FAlls. I prepared Feijoada, the iconic Brazilian dish of black beans, smoked and cured meats, sauteed kale, and sliced Navel oranges (native to Brazil). This rich and flavorful dish was accompanied by plentiful Caipirinha cocktails–like a daiquiri made with cachaca (Brazilian sugar cane spirits) that can be dangerously delicious and lead to spirited dancing. See the clip here:  Painted Bride Celebrates its 46th Anniversary Brazilian Style!

Community Seder at Baba Olga’s Cafe on Saturday, April 4

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I’m very excited to be hosting our first Community Seder at Baba Olga’s Cafe on the second night of Passover. Everyone is invited to this celebration of Sephardi and Ashkenazi food, freedom, and building community. Please join us for this delicious meal accompanied by the traditional (minimum!) four glasses of wine.

Spice Blends Cooking Classes at Baba Olga’s Cafe

Please join me and a group of food lovers at my series of three international spice-based cooking classes at Baba Olga’s Cafe. The first class is coming up in just two weeks and will include cooking demo, a take-home packet of spices for each guest and lunch featuring dishes that we have made and other recipes from my forthcoming book, The Magic of Spice Blends. Please visit http://materialculture.com/cooking-classes-at-baba-olgas-cafe/ for more information and to purchase tickets.

Aliza Green is Chef Manager for Baba Olga’s Cafe at Material Culture

 

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Unique retail store and auction house Material Culture has truly become a destination that treats all five senses with the opening of its new restaurant, Baba Olga’s Café and Supper Club. The café marries global flavor with the most locally-sourced, sustainably-harvested ingredients.Aliza Green is the proud Chef Manager of Baba Olga’s Café & Supper Club at Material Culture http://materialculture.com/baba-olga-cafe/where lunch is served Wednesday through Saturday in a menu of made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, and sweets. Every Sunday, she prepares a prix-fixe Grand Seasonal Buffet with an array of seasonal, local, and international culinary creations. The store and cafe space are available for rentals for catered events and Green works directly with customers to create a custom menu.

An enthusiastic life-long traveler, Chef Green has spent time working with chefs and food artisans around the world, learning the local customs, methods and tastes to achieve mastery of her craft. Her bold and flavorful cuisine finds an apt home in Material Culture, amidst the art and home decor that was similarly imported from locations across the globe. The café’s space is decorated with custom hand-crafted furnishings and one-of-a-kind art and artifacts discovered in the field, creating an experience that enlivens and transports from the moment guests cross the threshold.

The menu at Baba Olga’s prioritizes fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms and suppliers wherever possible. Some of our suppliers include Heritage Farm in Philadelphia, Green Meadow Farm in Gap, PA and Fruitwood Orchards in New Jersey. Our commitment to using fish that is sustainably caught and meat and poultry that is humanely raised has an impact on the environment—and an impact on the rich, succulent flavors of the dishes. At Baba Olga’s the water is filtered five times for clean, clear flavor and no wasteful plastic water bottles. Food scraps are composted by Bennett Compost, take-out containers, and paper napkins are biodegradable, and little to no processed foods are used. 

 

Too Many Chives; How to Store Herbs; Where to Buy Field Guide to Herbs & Spices

Everyone should have this guide to herbs and spices on their bookshelves

Everyone should have this guide to herbs and spices on their bookshelves

If you’ve got far too many chives–and they’re doing so well with all the rain we’ve been getting, see my tips for using chives which appear in this article in the Washington Post Food Section: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/herb-dilemmas-solved-by-the-bunch/2013/06/11/e130e822-cca5-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html.

Of all the books I’ve written, Field Guide to Herbs & Spices is still a personal favorite that I turn to again and again. I include the names of each herb and spice in 15 to 20 languages, depending on where in the world it is used most, their scientific names, common uses around the world, characteristics, how to choose, store, and use them, flavor affinities, and simple preparations and recipes. The book has been translated into French and Spanish. I had to come up with 240 (!) different herbs and spices to do the photos and had shipments arriving from Australia, Sri Lanka, Wellsweep Farm–an amazing herb farm in New Jersey–Mexico, the Caribbean, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. So much fun! My dream is to write another spice book, this time focusing on spice blends.

How to store herbs and spices from an article I was interviewed for in Real Simple Magazinehttp://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/herbs-spices/best-way-store-herbs-00000000015652/index.html.

Here’s a link to the World Spice Merchant’s page about my book: http://www.worldspice.com/wares/field-guide-to-herbs-spices. Check out the gorgeous blossoming chives on the cover from my own herb garden. The white blossoms from Chives chives are also delicious–just make sure to pull the blossoms off the tougher calyx for both types before using.

 

 

 

 

Learn to Make Chilled No-Cook Summer Soups at Greensgrow Farm, Saturday, June 8

I’ll be teaching a workshop on making chilled no-cook summer soups this Saturday at the fabulous Greensgrow Farms in Kensington. No need for cooking, just a blender, bowl, knife, and board–and LOTS of seasonal vegetables, fruits, and herbs. We’ll be making these three soups:

Green Gazpacho with Grapes, Garlic, Almonds & Spinach

Golden Tomato Gazpacho with Smoked Paprika

Melon, Ginger & Yogurt Soup with Jalapeno

 

The recipes come from my newest book, The Soupmaker’s Kitchen, which will be published on July 1st but is available now on Amazon for preorder.

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Full of step-by-step photos, techniques, make-ahead instructions for success–even if you’ve never made a pot of soup.

All the soups are vegetarian and two are vegan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on this link for details; http://www.greensgrow.org/event/chef-aliza-green-and-the-soupmakers-kitchen-workshop/

(I have changed the program to make it a cold soups workshop so the description may not be accurate until it has been corrected. Location, pricing, and registration information stays the same.)

Participants will also receive a handy information card showing how to make delicious, full-bodied vegetable stock using kitchen scraps.

If you’ve never visited Greensgrow Farms, this is a perfect opportunity to taste their produce and get some new recipes you’ll make again and again in the hot summer months to come,

 

 

The Soupmaker’s Kitchen: How to Save Your Scraps, Prepare a Stock, and Craft the Perfect Pot of Soup

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learn to make delicious, nutritious soups for every season with gorgeous step-by-step photos, techniques, soupmaker tips, and make-ahead instructions

The Soupmaker’s Kitchen is a complete guide to making soups, broths, potages, minestra, minestrone, bisques, and borscht. Learn how to set up your kitchen to use your ingredients most optimally—from saving vegetable scraps for stock to tips on freezing finished soups. Explore more than 100 soup recipes, plus variations on each one, from all over the world, and in every style of soup you might want to eat.

Available on July 1st, this colorful and easy-to-follow guide to the art of soupmaking belongs on the shelves of eager cooks and those interested in sustainability and cutting down on waste. Even if you’ve never made a pot of soup in your life, this book will give you culinary confidence with complete, detailed instructions and a world of wonderful soup recipes.

Recipes include:

—Hungarian Woodlands Mushroom Soup with Sour Cream and Paprika

—Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro

—Senegalese Peanut and Yam Puree with Ginger

—Provencal Soupe au Pistou with Savoy Cabbage, White Beans, and Leeks

—Wild Salmon Chowder with Sweet Corn & Gold Potatoes

—Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

—Cream of Cauliflower with Nutmeg and Chives

—Kerala Red Lentil Soup (vegan)

—Vietnamese Pho Soup with Beef Brisket

—Caribbean Callalou Soup with Crabmeat and Coconut

Focus on fresh ingredients and learn how to use every part of them to minimize waste, save money, and maximize flavor with The Soupmaker’s Kitchen!