Exploring The World Via the Kitchen Door


why I teach Pots, Pans & Passports class  

Every year before Christmas my mom would ask, “Where should we go for Christmas this year?” “Greece? Or Italy?” I’d reply. For each year at Christmas we traveled to a different country. One year we went to Sweden. Another year it was Mexico, then Italy, and Greece. Even though I grew up in a small town (population 200!) I learned so much about the world from these holiday adventures.

Quick confession. Truth is, we never really went to Mexico, Greece, Sweden, or Italy. Rather, come November we would choose a country to “visit.” Pre-internet days, my mom would send me off to the local library to find cookbooks featuring that country’s traditional foods. Then we’d gather around the kitchen table pouring over cookbooks. We would design a menu from these countries to serve at Christmas. If we were going to Greece we’d call specialty grocery stores in nearby cities asking if they sold grape leaves or frozen octopus. If we were going to Italy we’d scour the back pages of fancy cooking magazines like Bon Appetit looking for squid which could be shipped to our little town. I learned to stuff grape leaves (Greece), make homemade tortillas (Mexico), and serve pickled herring (Sweden). On Christmas Eve we’d invite friends and family and set out a feast for all to enjoy.

Thus, at the beginning of each Pots, Pans & Passports class, I dedicate it to my mother, Louise DeRe Zippay. She taught me to always try the food on your plate and no matter where you live, there is always a world for you to explore. You simply need to step through the kitchen door.


Purple Cauliflower

Spring is the set up for the colors of summer. It’s a teaser ad, a sneak peak at what’s coming down the pipe. The red radishes, the orange carrots, and then this ~ the purple cauliflower.  The next time a kid taunts you with the challenge there are no purple foods, shove one of these in his face. Perhaps maybe it's best to gently present rather than shove. 


Paired with some oyster mushrooms from our favorite ‘shroom supplier LA Funghi, spiced with a little garlic and salt, top with some sour cream, vinegar, and dill and you have something amazing.  Even the kids will like it.  Maybe. I don't know your kids. 



Carrot Front and Center

In our previous post we lauded the carrot as we know and love it today, from its green leafy top to its colorful root. Naturally you can eat them a la "Bugs Bunny" style. You can also serve them in salads, as displayed so beautifully in purple glory below.

Purple carrot glory. 

Purple carrot glory. 


Or try a savory soup. We made this carrot coconut soup the other day, chock full of anti-oxidants (ginger), anti-inflammatory ingredients (ginger, turmeric), and all around goodness. Imagine how well the sweetness of the carrots and coconut cream contrast with the pungency of the fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, garlic, onion, and leeks. Garlic, onion, and leeks, you ask? Why so many pungent flavors, you say? Traditional Chinese medicine practices of seasonal attunement recommend a focus in the spring on light pungent flavors such as garlic, leeks, and onion. We couldn’t choose just one. So we chose them all. The flavor of the soup speaks for itself, but if you think garlic, onion and leek is just too much to bear, leave one out. Radical recipes are guidelines, not mandates. 


A warm golden sun in a cup or bowl.  

A warm golden sun in a cup or bowl.  

Carrot Leek & Coconut Soup (Vegan)

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 pound carrots, peeled, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 medium leeks, 1 chopped, 1 thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (peel it first!)

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh turmeric (peel it first!)

Sea salt and some freshly ground pepper

4 cups vegetable broth

1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk



Heat oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, chopped leek, garlic, ginger, and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, 5–7 minutes. Add broth, coconut milk, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If you so desire, lightly fry up the sliced leeks, salt, and garnish the soup. 

Cook's note: they say the addition of pepper mixed with turmeric enhances the anti-inflammatory properties and more. So don't forget the pepper!