Saturday, January 1, 2011


We all look for some sort of inspiration to find the right frame of mind with which to begin the new year. Some of us party until it hurts; others spend the occasion in quite reflection. In a tradition that spans geographical, cultural and ethnic distinctions,  my parents and grandparents considered the consumption of certain food dishes on New Year's Day to be fortuitous; I follow their lead every year by cooking something that might bring me much needed luck in the months ahead. There were many choices to consider; last year I had collard greens & cole slaw (for money), my German neighbor had sauerkraut and pork chops, my aunt ate black eyed peas (again, for money).

imgres.jpgThis year I had a greek salad (any greek food will do, for prosperity) and I enlisted the assistance of 2 outstanding jazz musicians - Grammy Award-winning pianist Michel Camilo, from the Dominican Republic and Marcus Roberts, the celebrated pianist and Florida native.

I found their recipes for New Year's Day- appropriate dishes in a cookbook called "Jazz Cooks: Portraits and Recipes of the Greats", written by Bob Young and Al Stankus; published in 1992 by Stewart Tabori Chang. You'll find dozens of recipes, anecdotes and wonderful photos by Deborah Feingold.

Michel Camilo's Dominican-style Roast Pork
juice of 3 naranja agria or 2 grapefruits
juice of 10 lemons
6-7lb picnic shoulder, bone in
10 garlic cloves mashed
two tsps onion powder
2 tsps salt, pepper to taste; 2 tsps oregano

One night before, squeeze juice from naranja & lemon - remove seeds
place pork in non reactive pan with tight fitting lid
pour juices over meat
cover meat w/garlic onion pwdr salt, oregano & pepper
cover pan, refrigerate overnight
cook in oven at 350 for 5 hrs
basting pork every 45 min
after 5 hrs, raise temp to 450
uncover for additional 15 min
allow meat to sit at room temp for 15 min before serving

Marcus Roberts' Black Eyed Peas Okra Ham Hock Stew
3 ham hocks 
3 16 oz cans black eyed peas
2 lg. cans whole tomatoes
1 lb okra sliced thickly
3tps sugar; salt & pepper to taste

Place ham hocks for 15 min in water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer 
add black eyed peas
add tomatoes for 15 min of cooking
add other ingredients and cook for 35 min.

And for a more than adequate soundtrack to your culinary activities, check out another pianist - Randy Weston - and his 1964 release "African Cookbook" 

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