Although I'm not from a family of cooks, I did grow up eating
from our vegetable garden and we had our beef slaughtered. There was always "real" food on the table, not a lot of convenience or frozen foods. Along with having a mother whose style was Southern cooking, each summer, I visited my aunt who lived in Coastal California, and was exposed to the fresher, lighter cuisine which was popular there. I learned what good food tastes like and it gave me an appreciation of clean eating and healthy, natural foods.
I gained a true appreciation for cooking and food when I had the opportunity of dining at The Restaurant at Meadowood, and at The French Laundry a few years ago. The presentation was so artful, and it was an experience I will always remember fondly. I was truly inspired after that and wanted to create dishes that were as beautiful to look at as they were delicious! I also got to photograph and briefly visit with Chef Thomas Keller, who was so gracious and is one of the world's finest chefs.
I am continuing to learn from everyone in 37 Cooks and am honored to be counted among them!
One of my very favorite things to fix, especially in the summer, is tabouli. Not only is it beautiful to look at (so colorful!), but it is also easy to prepare, healthy, and so very tasty. It's a great dish to take to family or neighborhood get-togethers, but be sure to take along the recipe -- everyone will ask!!! Bulgar can be found in most stores, but barley or couscous may also be substituted.
1 cup bulgar wheat
2 medium tomatoes
1 cucumber (either English or regular, seeded), chopped
1 bunch green onions, top half chopped
1 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Put the bulgar in a large bowl, add 2 cups of water. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
Mix all ingredients together and toss to combine. I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours for best flavor. Enjoy!