COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Food and tradition are inexplicably tied together when it comes to creating dishes was purpose. James Beard award-winning chef and food writer Joan Nathan deeply understands the connection that food can create.
“I hope that people try to look in their past - whatever tradition they are - and look for those recipes that they feel are their own. Recipes that say, ‘hey, this is my family,’ rather than another family, and share them with their family so that they’ll go on,” Joan said as she began preparations for her cooking class at Richland Library. “Because I feel in this digital age, we have everything at our finger tips, and we can be any body, but I think it’s really important to preserve who we are and that really includes recipes as well.”
Joan, known for her Jewish cooking expertise, also shared a recipe for an iconic dish that combines two cultures - Jewish and Eastern European.
Azerbaijani Kukusa with Swiss Chard and Herbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions, sliced very thin
About 1/2 cup chopped chives
3 scallions, diced
About 8 ounces (225 grams) fresh Swiss chard or spinach, trimmed of stems and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 bunch dill, snipped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 to 10 large eggs
A handful or arugula or other bitter greens or herbs
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts, coarsely ground
1. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick pan set over medium heat. Add the onions, chives, and scallions and sauté until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
2. When the onion mixture is golden, add the Swiss chard or spinach, garlic, cilantro, dill, salt and pepper to taste, and turmeric and cook for about 10 minutes over low heat, until any liquid released from the spinach and herbs is evaporated.
3. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl, then carefully incorporate the eggs into the vegetables and herbs in the frying pan, using a rubber spoon to smooth the surface. Cook covered, over low heat, for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set. The color should be deep green, almost black. Uncover and bring to the table in the frying pan with a handful of arugula on top and sprinkle with the walnuts. You can also serve this cut up at room temperature as an appetizer or snack.
Yield: 8-10 servings