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“Starting With Ingredients, Quintessential Recipes for the Way We Really Cook” Author, Aliza Green

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 Imagine a trip to the local market. Out of the corner of your eye, you spot amazingly fresh, bright colored vegetables, a great price, only problem; you are not sure how to prepare them. Ask Aliza Green, Chef, Cookbook Author, Consultant, and Teacher, she will tell you “the fundamental essential in preparing excellent meals at home or in a restaurant is to learn and know about the ingredients.”

 Starting With Ingredients, Quintessential Recipes For The Way We Really Cook, is one of twelve cookbooks this James Beard Award Winning Author has written. A one hundred-chapter compendium from A for Almonds to Z for Zucchini Green shares interesting stories about how food is used in different cultures, ethnic specialties and ingredient preparation throughout history while providing recipes drawing from both traditional and modern techniques.

Each ingredient Chapter transitions toward the full cycle of food in everyday meal preparation and the use of fresh products from what is seasonally available. “If you know your ingredients you can maximize the use of foods at the farmers market and be able to work with them and understand the many different forms of usage in preparations.” says Green

The easy reference cookbook unfolds multiple ways to use individual ingredients simply on their own, letting a single ingredient speak for itself, combining the ingredient with other complementary ingredients, or dividing ingredient portions for another meal. One ingredient idea Aliza shared is with Swiss chard found in the cookbook Chapter: Greens. “Did you know that the Swiss chard has two separate uses?’ she asks ” The Greens can be used in soups or dishes” (such as the Greek Mixed Greens Pie with Poppy Seed Topping in the recipe below) “The center ribs of the chard are then like getting a free vegetable that have a flavor somewhere between artichoke and celery and can be made into a creamy gratin.” Green encourages the effective purposing of ingredients without waste throughout the entire food cycle and she shares easy tips on how readers can easily save and use ingredient trimmings for making stocks for soups or sauces.

 

A recent visit with Aliza provided the opportunity to look back on this early pioneer of female chefs in Philadelphia, whose history also includes being the Philadelphia Inquirer Hall of Fame top ten most influential people in the city’s food industry and her inspiration for writing a cookbook on ingredients. “I have always been interested in recognizing superior quality in foods, what they should look like, how products could be combined, their fragrances, their feel, seasonal changes, and how foods are transformed by different cooking methods and coming up with clear imaginative recipes.” she said

Aliza was even more inspired to using the finest and freshest ingredients after studying in Italy under cookbook author, Marcella Hazan prior to the DiLullo restaurant opening, a four star restaurant in Philadelphia where Aliza served as Executive Chef. “When we focus on letting the ingredients speak for themselves and in their simplicity, not too complicated, not a spotlight that puts way too much attention on what is going on, it helps to instill a greater respect for a dish.”  Green said

Long before the food to table movement achieved the notoriety of today Green was working daily with local farmers regularly focused on providing dishes with ingredients picked from the field and served to restaurant diners the same day. She also encouraged area farmers to try planting and growing specialty produce as the yellow pepper and zucchini blossoms. Greens approach was one she then continued as Executive Chef at Philadelphia restaurants: Apropos and the White Dog Cafe, where she was also a restaurant Partner.

 A lifelong traveler, Aliza possesses a deep understanding for “well rooted” cultural foods from throughout the world sharing “workable” recipes in the Ingredients cookbook. “Home cooks do not need elaborate equipment to transform food into exceptional dishes, they only need to have an understanding about the ingredient and how to prepare it.” she said. Greens philosophy on recipes today is that although there are many talented chefs doing unique and interesting preparations with food, still, there is no inventing, believing that recipes are based on foundations of cultures and times past. Fundamentally, Green has some reservations about fusion foods cautioning random combinations of ingredients mixed together “there is a reason that foods go together.” she says “Some fusion foods do not always make culinary sense or have too many ingredients which makes dishes both tiring to the palate and to the digestive system.”

Aliza Green currently returns to Italy annually where she also serves as a Group Tour Leader, this fall in the Tuscan Maremma & Umbria regions in the exploration of autumn culinary delights. (I am providing the web link from her site for anyone who might be interested!)

Taking another liberty off of Alizas’ site I thought it might be informative to share a how-to program featured on ABC of Aliza instructing how to make fresh pasta. Watch it here. The set provides a good initiation to another of her cookbooks that I very much enjoy: Making Artisan Pasta, How To Make A World Of Handmade Noodles, Stuffed Pasta, Dumplings And More.

From a chef’s perspective, Italy is a place one can observe how Aliza values the importance of food simplicity and fresh ingredients. Her enthusiasm shines forth as she speaks of fresh picked wild asparagus simmered and served on its own, the concept of making a dish using just four ingredients, each one ingredient balanced and perfect with the other, a bowl of fresh made poppy leaf pasta with exceptional local olive oil all teaching an appreciation for each food ingredient.

 For this writer, as I post my first article of Spiced Peach Blog, Starting With Ingredients, its content and focus is apropos, written by an author who generously provided an exciting chapter and life learning experience for me once before many years ago, and, I always know about my ingredients!

Greek Mixed Greens Pie with Poppy Seed Topping

Greek Mixed Greens Pie with Poppy Seed Topping
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh spinach, trimmed of stems
  2. 1 pound swiss chard, stalks removed
  3. 1 bunch watercress or arugula, stems trimmed off
  4. 1 bunch dill, leaves roughly chopped
  5. 2 cups roughly cut fennel stalks
  6. 2 bunches scallions, sliced
  7. 2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  9. 1/2 pound (2 cups) crumbled feta cheese
  10. Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  11. 1 pound phyllo dough, defrosted if frozen, and at room temperature
  12. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. Combine the spinach, chard, watercress, and dill in a large bowl of lukewarm water. Swish around vigorously to dislodge any sand. Scoop the greens from the bowl. If there is more than a tiny bit of sand left in the bowl, repeat the process.
  2. Transfer the cleaned greens to a large pot. Cover and heat until the greens are just barely wilted, turning them around once or twice so the greens on top cook also. Drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze out the excess water, slice the greens into 1-inch-wide strips, and reserve.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Chop the fennel stalks in the food processor (or by hand) into small bits. In a large heavy skillet, cook the scallions and fennel in 2 tablespoons olive oil until crisp -tender, about 5 minutes and reserve.
  4. Combine the cooked greens with the fennel mixture. Add most of the eggs (reserving about 2 tablespoons for the egg wash), the feta, and plenty of fresh ground pepper to taste. The feta is salty, so salt isn't necessary.
  5. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo, folded to fit, on the bottom of a buttered 9x13-inch metal baking pan or a large, rectangular, shallow decorative ceramic baking dish, brushing every other sheet lightly with oil. Spread half the filling evenly over the phyllo. Cover with eight more sheets of phyllo, brushing with oil in between every other sheet. Spread the remaining half of the filling over top. Finally, layer with 8 sheets of phyllo, folded to fit, brushing those pairs with olive oil too.
  6. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle evenly with the poppy seeds. Gently score the pie on the diagonal into serving pieces.
  7. Bake 45 minutes, or until the phyllo is crisp and golden. Cool somewhat before cutting into serving pieces, and serve.
Adapted from Starting With Ingredients
Adapted from Starting With Ingredients
Spiced Peach Blog http://spicedpeachblog.com/

 

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18 Comments

  1. Ev
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on your first posting! Well done.

    • admin
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Thank You Ev! You are officially my first Comment Post! Much Appreciated.

  2. Bob McMackin (Granda
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations. The first of many great blogs to come. Could you have one for “cooking for one”?

    • admin
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Dad. Cooking for one? that might possibly be another blogger, perhaps at some juncture

  3. Bob
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    As one of the pioneer chefs who helped make Philadelphia a major dining destination, Aliza Green is the perfect subject for your first blog. I can’t wait to see what your next blog is about.

    Sláinte

    • admin
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Bob. The next Post will be on Monday, the 30th, Grilled Chicken Pinwheels.

  4. Becks Treharne
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    This is amazing Peggy! It’s making me hungry reading it!!! I can’t wait to read more recipes, and maybe make some!!!!

    • admin
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Rebecca, looking forward to providing a couple of excellent Welsh recipes in the future!

  5. Carolyn Wagner
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Very exciting Peggy!! Looking forward to following and learning along the way, GOD KNOWS I NEED ALL THE HELP I CAN GET. It looks fantastic and my first step is to purchase Aliza’s book. My goal is to make more then reservations.
    Love you much,
    Carolyn

    • admin
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Thank You Carolyn. Bon Appetit!

  6. Sunisa P.
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I recently bought The Fishmongers Apprentice by Aliza and have enjoyed many recipes from there. My family loves the seafoods and I enjoy the simple ingredients that so many of her recipes call for.
    I enjoyed reading about this book and the beautiful pictures in your blog.
    I read about your Korean daughters. Do you make Korean dishes? I’m from Asia but not Korean and enjoy the diversity of cuisine here in the USA.

    Sunny

    • admin
      Posted July 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Hi Sunny, Thanks so much for your comment. I too very much enjoy Aliza’s book, The Fishmonger’s Apprentice. Besides its excellent instructional value on a broad selection of fish and their preparation, I also find the stories covering an expansive range of experts in the seafood industry very interesting. I do make Korean dishes at home and my daughters love Korean food. Admittedly, I do not make my own Kim Chee since we have so many excellent Korean markets with excellent fresh Kim Chee nearby.

  7. Carolyn Wagner
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Well I just got my Aliza Green cookbook in the mail, I am ready for the journey. BTW… Those crabcakes look amazing. Yummy!!

    • Posted August 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      Hi Carolyn,
      So happy your cookbook, Starting With Ingredients has arrived, I’m sure you will enjoy it and learn much! In regard to the crab cake Post, please do try them, they are the best I have ever had. Thanks again for being a part of the conversation.

  8. Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s remarkable to go to see this website and reading the views of all mates about this article, while I am also keen of getting experience.

  9. Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Excellent blog you have here but I was wanting to know if
    you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this
    article? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

    • Posted May 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Hello Lloyd thanks so much for your comment and inquiry. At this time the main sources I am aware relative to Food Discussion Boards are Google + which I myself have joined but am continuing to learn its processes, as well as you might participate in Food Groups on Linked In. Most of these groups are open to the public with only a few requiring organizational membership. There are other venues to consider too as Food Meet-Up Groups and Clubs. As far as Food Blogs, many cover a full variety of ingredients within their recipes and topics. I myself have Aliza Green’s, Starting With Ingredients Cookbook and enjoy it immensely and continuously find it packed with valuable, useful information. Wish I could be of more help but hope you will continue to stay tuned in our Shared Table on Spiced Peach Blog along the spice road of food and friendship.

6 Trackbacks

  • […] unique flavor. Years later, I regretted not having written down the recipe. I am not even sure if Aliza Green was still the Executive Chef at the […]

  • […] Aliza Green, author of Starting With Ingredients manned with another cookbook author, the Les Dames d’Escoffier Table (shared along with Slow Food Philadelphia)  while additionally offering another of her cookbooks, Artisan Pasta. Green currently nominated for a James Beard Award on a Washington Post article on food gloves announced in May also shared with me that there are yet a few remaining openings in her upcoming Culinary Adventures Tour in Puglia, Italy, October 2nd-9th 2013. The week’s accommodation at Masseria Montenapoleone Villa will involve along with sightseeing and touring historical sites, the culinary aspects of the region through guided tastings, artisan demonstrations, hands on cooking classes, and trips to the market. You can contact Aliza here if you would like more information on participating on the upcoming tour. You can read a former Spiced Peach Blog Posting on Aliza’s Cookbook, Starting With Ingredients here. […]

  • […] Aliza was working on this cookbook at the time I first interviewed her on another of her cookbooks, Starting With Ingredients, as part of my launch for Spiced Peach Blog last July and so it is one I have been very much […]

  • By 2015 Philly Farm and Food Fest on April 7, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    […] year is the Book Nook featuring notable local cookbook authors, one of these our dear friend on Spiced Peach Blog, Aliza Green. The Book Nook will serve as a sort of meet and greet, a great opportunity to purchase […]

  • […] cooking tips.  Aliza was the first interview and blog post I printed on Spiced Peach Blog, “Starting with Ingredients.” I also posted another soup from Aliza’s cookbook, “The Soupmaker’s Kitchen” […]

  • By Rainbow Chard Rib Gratin on September 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

    […] dish. As far as the ribs, I best enjoy the observation made by author, Aliza Green, in her cookbook “Starting With Ingredients” remarking on the ribs technically being a “nutty stalk,’ in essence, a vegetable of […]

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  • Hi, I'm Peggy. Welcome to our Shared Table at Spiced Peach Blog!
    Subscribe here for my fresh, seasonal recipes with an international twist.