When I was three years old, I begged my mother to let me help make dinner. She put a bowl of warm milk in front of me and let me mix in a tablet of rennet, the same enzyme that turns milk into cheese. Watching the milk gel into a jiggly pudding started my forever fascination with how and why cooking works.
Today, my cooking is a mix of healthy and indulgent, often inspired by ethnic flavors. My recipes feature an abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, and when I use meat it is humanely raised. When I do cook vegetarian, everyone is happy because I focus on making satisfying dishes with layers of flavor. Using herbs and spices, such as ginger and thyme, generously brings bold flavor to my dishes.
Travel transformed my taste, taking me away from French cuisine and the fancy dishes I learned when apprenticing at three-star restaurants in France—an eye-opening experience for a self-taught cook—to pan-Mediterranean cooking influenced particularly by North Africa, Southern Italy, and British and American comfort food.
I especially enjoy one-dish meals like a Moroccan tagine or mushroom shepherd’s pie, followed by a dessert like Sicilian cannoli cream studded with chocolate and orange zest or fruity cranberry granita. I also cannot resist a good Mexican molé, either as a main dish or adapted to flavor a decadent brownie.
The only rules I stick to when cooking are use everything, in moderation; use fresh ingredients, especially seasonal ones; and enjoy what you eat. Somehow, spontaneously, what ends up on the table is always healthy and delicious.
For even more recipes, explore my cookbooks—I have written fifteen. I guest blog regularly for the American Institute for Cancer Research, and have contributed to many publications including Cooking Light, O: The Oprah Magazine, Prevention, Vegetarian Times, and The New York Times.
I live in New York City and love exploring its diverse neighborhoods and discovering foods from all over the world.