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About Alexander Smalls
Alexander Smalls is an iconic figure in American cooking. He is the former chef-owner of Café Beulah, the Cecil (named the best new restaurant in America by Esquire magazine in 2014), and three other NYC restaurants. He co-authored with JJ Johnson and Veronica Chambers Between Harlem and Heaven, the 2019 James Beard award winner for Best American Cookbook. Smalls is a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of a Grammy and a Tony Award.
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Iconic chef and world-renowned opera singer Alexander Smalls marries two of his greatest passions—food and music—in Meals, Music, and Muses. More than just a cookbook, Smalls takes readers on a delicious journey through the South to examine the food that has shaped the region. Each chapter is named for a type of music to help readers understand the spirit that animates these recipes.
Filled with classic Southern recipes and twists on old favorites, this cookbook includes starters such as Hoppin’ John Cakes with Sweet Pepper Remoulade and Carolina Bourbon Barbecue Shrimp and Okra Skewers, and main dishes like Roast Quail in Bourbon Cream Sauce and Prime Rib Roast with Crawfish Onion Gravy.
Complete with anecdotes of Smalls’s childhood in the Low Country and examinations of Southern musical tradition, Meals, Music, and Muses is a heritage cookbook in the tradition of Edna Lewis’s A Taste of Country Cooking.
Winner of the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook
“Between Harlem and Heaven presents a captivatingly original cuisine. Afro-Asian-American cooking is packed with unique and delicious layers of flavor. These stories and recipes lay praise to the immense influence the African Diaspora has had on global cuisine.”— Sean Brock
In two of the most renowned and historic venues in Harlem, Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson created a unique take on the Afro-Asian-American flavor profile. Their foundation was a collective three decades of traveling the African diaspora, meeting and eating with chefs of color, and researching the wide reach of a truly global cuisine; their inspiration was how African, Asian, and African-American influences criss-crossed cuisines all around the world. They present here for the first time over 100 recipes that go beyond just one place, taking you, as noted by The New Yorker, “somewhere between Harlem and heaven.”
This book branches far beyond "soul food" to explore the melding of Asian, African, and American flavors. The Afro Asian flavor profile is a window into the intersection of the Asian diaspora and the African diaspora. An homage to this cultural culinary path and the grievances and triumphs along the way, Between Harlem and Heaven isn’t fusion, but a glimpse into a cuisine that made its way into the thick of Harlem's cultural renaissance.
JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls bring these flavors and rich cultural history into your home kitchen with recipes for...
- Grilled Watermelon Salad with Lime Mango Dressing and Cornbread Croutons,
- Feijoada with Black Beans and Spicy Lamb Sausage,
- Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Rosemary and Caramelized Shallots,
- Festive punches and flavorful easy sides, sauces, and marinades to incorporate into your everyday cooking life.
Complete with essays on the history of Minton’s Jazz Club, the melting pot that is Harlem, and the Afro-Asian flavor profile by bestselling coauthor Veronica Chambers, who just published the wildly successful Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, this cookbook brings the rich history of the Harlem food scene back to the home cook.
“This is more than just a cookbook. Alexander and JJ take us on a culinary journey through space and time that started more than 400 years ago, on the shores of West Africa. Through inspiring recipes that have survived the Middle Passage to seamlessly embrace Asian influences, this book is a testimony to the fact that food transcends borders." — Chef Pierre Thiam