February 26, 2010
Nirmala Narine, who has been called 'the Indiana Jones of Spices', was born in Guyana in the family kitchen on an empty flour sack, delivered by a marijuana-puffing midwife. Her grandfather was an Ayurvedic scholar and Hindu priest who introduced her to the importance of spices and cooking holistically.
Narine spent the first ten years of her life in this incredible Amazonian patchwork before the family moved to Queens, New York. There she was educated and introduced to a whole new crazy-quilt of ethnicities and cultures–and the flavors they brought with them.
Today, Narine has a 15-acre organic farm in New York's Hudson Valley and is the proprietress of Nirmala's Kitchen, an importer of spices and gourmet foods from around the world. All told, Narine has traveled to more than 125 countries, bringing the flavors she finds on her travels right into kitchens like yours!
Her latest cookbook, Nirmala's Edible Diary, is a homecoming for the intrepid traveler and spice-monger. In it, she details her travels to 14 South American countries, including excerpts from her diaries and her interpretations on classic South-American dishes.
And nothing is lost in translation–the book is a passport through the southern continent–filling your mouth with flavor on every step of the amazing journey. Narine delivers tastes from the world over right to your door, and in doing so promotes cultural awareness and understanding.
I made the Empanadas de Chorizo y Queso de Cabra–Sausage and Goat Cheese Empanadas, which were outstanding. The filling was a flavorful and interesting combination, though I think they should have been called 'Disappearing Empanadas', since they so quickly disappeared from the plate they were served on!
And without further ado, I AM GIVING AWAY A FREE COPY OF NIRMALA'S EDIBLE DIARY!!!
All you need to do to be eligible to win cookbook is leave a comment this post between now and 11:00 p.m. Eastern US Time on Friday, March 5.
On Saturday, March 6th, a winning number will be chosen at random. Shipping is available worldwide for this giveaway. Good luck!
And in the meantime, please enjoy the Sausage and Goat Cheese Empanadas! A special thank-you to David at Chronicle Books. Recipe from Nirmala's Edible Diary and use of the cover image used with permission.
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Empanadas de Chorizo y Queso de Cabra
Sausage and Goat Cheese Empanadas
In making this recipe, I used pre-made tapas for empanadas for convenience. You can use either store-bought or homemade tapas, or phyllo dough as Nirmala suggests. I also used my own homemade sausage, which I will post about next week (I promise!) along with a long-awaited recipe for empanada dough.
4 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
1 cup finely diced Morcilla (blood sausage) or chorizo sausage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
freshly-ground black pepper
Eight 8 1/2 by 13-inch sheets of fozen phyllo, thawed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese with the sausage, chives, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Working with one phyllo sheet at a time, unfold the phyllo on a work surface. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the bottom half of the dough over the filling with one hand while pushing the filling down with your other hand. Fold the sides inward, then continue to roll the dough away from you. Transfer the empanada to the prepared baking sheet. (If you are using tapas for empanadas instead of phyllo dough, fill according to the instructions found here.)
Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling.
Bake until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.