Mexican Hot...

This is a thicker, more decadent version of the warm chocolate-flavored beverage that’s sold on the streets to accompany tamales. You can find versions of it all around Mexico, but the base tends to have some sort of combination of chocolate, corn (either masa or a toasted ground corn called pinole) and sugar. My version is so rich that I think it works as dessert. (Or, if you are me, a 3 p.m. snack.) The masa flavor isn’t extremely noticeable, so if you’d like more of a corn boost, add more masa or stir in some pinole, which can be found at select Mexican grocery stores.

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Hummus

Hummus is perhaps the single most recognizable Middle Eastern dish in America. I serve hummus more than any other dish at Tanoreen; it is one of the items on our menu that has distinguished us from other Middle Eastern restaurants in the city. How, you might wonder, can a combination of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic vary so much from one kitchen to the next? The secret—apart from being fearless with the lemon juice and garlic—is in the cooking of the chickpeas. You must boil dried chickpeas until they not only lose their skins but are easily crushed between your thumb and forefinger. The boiling time can vary greatly depending on the quality of the chickpeas. I always boil far more chickpeas than I need, drain the excess and freeze them in resealable plastic bags for up to six months.

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Meat Free...

Roquefort is a blue cheese matured in the caves of Mont Combalou in Southern France. Made from sheep’s rather than cow’s milk, it is similar to Stilton but creamier and sharper. Like its English cousin, it goes extremely well with walnuts.

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