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Less is More; Simpler is Better

Written by Victoria Dwek on Wednesday, 17 July 2013. Posted in Food Mood

 
 
As the daughter of a Moroccan mother (and Ashkenazi father), the dishes on her mother’s Montreal table were traditional Moroccan.
 
“I grew up eating a lot of couscous, chicken, and one-pot tagine dinners. We also had a lot of Moroccan salads with Moroccan spices, like cooked eggplant, matboucha, and lots of ground meats with nutmeg and cinnamon,” Kim tells me. 
 
Kim’s childhood home was the open house of the neighborhood. Kim is the youngest of three girls, and all three would watch their mother enjoying the time she spent cooking. 
 
Kim brought the tradition to her own Manhattan apartment when she got married. 
 
 
“Did you cook the same foods as your mother at that point, or your own?” I ask.
“Both. I was trying to modernize what my mother had been cooking. Then I went to ICE,” she says.
 
Ten years ago, Kim attended the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), one of the finest culinary schools in the country. Kim’s kosher-keeping status still made for an interesting culinary school experience.
 
“The running joke in my class was that my food was the most well-seasoned, even though my classmates could taste their food and I couldn’t taste mine. I’m not afraid to be generous with seasoning,” she laughs.
 
Even 10 years after graduating culinary school, Kim is always learning. “A couple weeks ago, I had an Arab woman come to my apartment to show me how to make a Moroccan crepe called a mofletta. I didn’t want just a recipe--I had to see her make it with my own eyes.”
“What do you serve it with?”
“Butter and honey. Moroccans traditionally eat it the night that Pesach ends, and at brises and bar mitzvahs.”
 
Today Kim is the address for Manhattan homemakers and professionals who want to stop relying on takeout and learn how to prepare flavorful meals on their own (many of her clients also send their au pairs to learn how to cook).
 
Kim’s new book, Modern Menu, is five years in the making, and a culmination of her cooking classes over the last 8 or so years. 
 
Enjoy These Recipes from Modern Menu
 
 

Grilled Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Bocconcini 

“I’m not a person who is a big-time freezer, but that’s an example of one dish that freezes very well. When eggplants are in season, I grill a lot of them and put them into Ziploc bags. They stay so well. They turn into a beautiful salad that’s not lettuce based.”
 

Ingredients

 
1 large eggplant, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds 
Olive oil, for brushing the grill pan
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, plus 
2 tablespoons of their oil
½ cup bocconcini packed in oil 
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
 
 

Directions

 
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a grill or heat a grill pan over high heat. Brush the pan with olive oil.
 
2. Pat the eggplant slices dry and grill until translucent and charred, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 10 minutes. (At this point, the cooked eggplant can be stored in resealable plastic bags and frozen for up to 3 months. To use, thaw at room temperature until softened.) 
 
3. Place the eggplant slices on a serving plate. Scatter the sun-dried tomatoes over, then drizzle the tomato oil on top. Scatter the bocconcini and basil on top. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper before serving. The dish can be made a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving. 
 
Serves 6 to 8
 

Spinach, Avocado, and Haricot Verts Salad

“I had created the dressing for this salad first. I wanted a crunchy dressing that is sweet and salty at the same time, and I wanted to pair it with vegetables that are a little different. But just because this salad calls for baby spinach, it will work fine with any lettuce. You don’t have to follow recipes exactly.”
 

Ingredients

 
8 cups baby spinach 
Handful haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into small cubes 
1 white peach, skin on, pitted and cut into 
very thin slices
¼ cup sugar 
¼ cup honey 
¼ cup vegetable oil 
¼ cup cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup salted shelled sunflower seeds 
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
 

Directions

 
1. Place the spinach, haricots verts, avocado, and peach in a large bowl or on a large platter.
 
2. Combine the sugar, honey, vegetable oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to thoroughly combine.
 
3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat all over. 
 
Serves 6 to 8

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About the Author

Victoria Dwek

Victoria Dwek is the Managing Editor of Ami Magazine's Whisk, where she gets to chat with all her reader friends about cooking and baking, and share all her fun experiences in the culinary world. 

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