My journey as a chef can be traced in ways that not only pays homage to the food I eat but by the people who introduced me to a diverse world of flavors that I use in my recipes today. There was Helga, my grandmother, who shaped my resourcefulness and core cooking values. Then there were the tough yet brilliant chefs who knocked me around at Victoria Jungrau in Switzerland. I had a long-lasting love affair with the flavors from Japan and the hustling New York street vendors. And of course a life-changing return to Ethiopia has made huge impacts on my life in food.
My memoir shares all of this, and what would a chef's personal memoir be without plenty of recipes to accompany it? These easy-to-make dishes, inspired by my love for chasing flavors around the globe represent the different locations of where I've lived and worked--fish tostadas will take you to my hometown by the sea while the berbere that peppers my "Yes, Chef" cocktail brings back the spices of Ethiopia. Though I was trained to see fancy French food as the best of what cuisine could bring (and without a doubt it is delicious) I have found that passionate, well-prepared food can be found just as easily on the streets of Harlem as it can in a five-star restaurant in Paris.
Made to be completely adaptable, I encourage you to put your own culinary spin on these dishes. No fresh tuna? Substitute Pacific salmon or tilapia to top the tostadas. If you snag juicy oranges from your local farmer's market use the rinds instead of beets for a candied topping to pair with my molten lava cake. Alter these dishes to fit your local palette or favorite cuisines and share your new creations with me @MarcusCooks
These individual cakes ooze with luxurious chocolate made from real cocoa nibs and topped with vanilla sweetened beets. Elegant enough to serve on a special occasion but easy enough for any night of the week. Recipe: Chocolate Molten Cake
Blend quintessential Scandavian with Southwestern flavors in these delightfully light corn pancakes covered with chili gravlax. Don't be intimidated by working with fresh salmon--gravlax is surprisingly easy to prep and the fish beautifully soaks up the flavors of chili powder, brown sugar and ginger. Recipe: Corn Pancakes with Chili-Covered Gravlax
Cool hot summer nights with a sweet and savory mix of ripe tomatoes and fresh watermelon salad that tips its hat to African flavors with a Harissa and almond vinaigrette. Recipe: Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Bite-size tostadas topped with fish, creamy avocado and pickled shallots draw upon the flavors of my childhood with a modern twist on creative culinary innovation. Easy to assemble and a surefire hit, these tostadas are an excellent party-starter. Recipe: Fish Tostadas
Salsi-what? Salsify, despite it's name, has a taste and texture like that of an artichoke heart. It's bright white flesh has an incredibly deep taste that makes for a unique spin on a soup starter. Mushrooms marinated with Asian flavors add another layer of complexity that will make this an unforgettable bowl. Recipe: Salsify Soup with Marinated Mushrooms
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