Gluten free Persian kotlet

Last night I looked in my fridge to see what I could make with the ingredients I had. I whipped up some mashed potatoes and carrots, then realized I had some ground turkey meat defrosted in the fridge. So, using the recipe from New Food of Life (my Persian cooking resource), I changed it a bit to make it gluten free and easier to make.

I wish I had taken photos, but it is so easy, you should be able to make it with no problem. The best thing about this: you don’t have to form any meat patties with your hands. Yay!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey or beef
2 eggs
1/2 small onion
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
3 tablespoons flour (I used 2 tablespoons of potato starch and 1 tablespoon of sorghum, but you could use anything)

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth and there are no large lumps. Mixture will be slightly liquid.
2. Heat coconut oil or vegetable oil in a large, non-stick pan.
3. Use spatula to scoop out the mixture and put it in the pan, spreading it so that it is about the size and thickness of your hand, or a little smaller. You should be able to fit several at a time.
4. Flip over when the kotlet is fully cooked and starting to brown, make sure both sides are browned evenly. Place on plate covered in paper towels to drain the oil.

Can be served with yogurt, hot or cold. This is great for picnics, especially!

Lemon butter vegetable pasta

On Friday night we had one of those moments where we had no interest in going to the grocery store after work, so we considered the options in the fridge and decided to make do with what we had. I threw this together in about 20 minutes and it was delicious. Please excuse the terrible cell phone picture, I was too hungry to bother with fancy photography.

Kale, sweet potato, zucchini, onions, penne rice pasta, and Parmesan in a lemon butter garlic sauce.

You will need at least 2 pots, a pan, and a small saucepan. Be prepared to use all four burners at the same time!

1. Peel & cube a sweet potato, boil until soft.
2. Boil penne pasta (ours was Schar’s gluten free pasta) and drain, set aside in large bowl.
3. Simultaneously, chop up an onion and a zucchini and fry it with the kale, add a little water, put the lid on, and steam.
4. In a small saucepan, fry chopped garlic for a few minutes, then add 6 tablespoons of butter and the juice of one lemon. Sprinkle some salt and pepper in as well. Cook long enough for the flavors to mix but don’t let it burn.
5. As each ingredient is done, put it in the large bowl with the pasta.
6. Toss everything together, pour the butter lemon sauce on top, and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Sriracha sauce optional.

First Thanksgiving together

I love Thanksgiving. Everything about it. This year we got to have 2 Thanksgivings, on different days, and it was great. I can’t even look at ham or turkey anymore, though. I had my sister-in-law’s help with the first round, and we split the making of the side dishes so it wasn’t quite as much work. We were still cooking most of the day, though.

Thanksgiving 2013 #1: sister-in-law & brother-in-law’s home

The spread, minus the turkey. Mmm.

Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, regular stuffing, gravy, honey almond carrots, brussels sprouts with pecans,  wild rice stuffing, and cornbread.

The turkey, prepared, cooked, and carved by my husband (20 lbs!):
The turkey

Turkey carving. #firstthanksgiving

I made a lot of gluten free pie from scratch last week. GF Pie crust is super time-consuming but it was worth it. (I used this recipe, if you want to know, but with real butter.) I made pumpkin and blueberry.
Pie!! I have been cooking all day but everything is in containers for tomorrow.

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013 #2 – at our “Munion Palace” as I’ve named it on Instagram. 😉

2nd Thanksgiving meal

Ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, GF stuffing, gravy, and honey almond carrots. And pie, of course.

Thanksgiving: Part 2

Well, it took me more than a week after Thanksgiving to write this post, but my excuse is that I was recovering from the awesome food that I ate. 😉

I spent the evening before Thanksgiving cooking at my condo. By cooking, I mean “going crazy and using every stove burner, the oven, and all available counter space” to make everything at once. Ok, so I’m ambitious. I concentrated on side dishes and dessert, since mom was taking care of the meat. The result:

Prep night for Thanksgiving

 

There were: mashed potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, cranberry-apple sauce, gluten free stuffing & gravy, gluten free pumpkin pie, regular pumpkin and blueberry pies. The blueberry pie was very pretty, and since it was the first time I had made pie crusts from scratch (in recent memory, anyway), it was quite the endeavor to pull it all off.

Blueberry pie made from scratch

I then drove an hour out to my parents house on Thanksgiving morning and did the final prep work to get everything on the table by 1:00 pm. (Mom’s turkey was awesome, btw.) The final result of food was incredible, and the family had a lovely time eating for the rest of the weekend.

Thanksgiving at my parents house

I really loved helping take on so much more of the cooking. It helped me feel more ownership and enjoy the process a little more (as well as appreciate how exhausting it is). If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a lovely holiday.

Thanksgiving: Part 1

I am feeling ambitious this year. I offered to help my mother cook some things in advance to alleviate the burden of cooking the giant meal. Our family, despite having a Persian element to some of our cooking, does the “traditional” American Thanksgiving meal. As it should be. 🙂

I will be documenting my adventures this evening, culminating in photos of the table tomorrow at my parents house. I am trying a few things I have never done before…so it may get messy!

Figs, honey, & Brie

A few weekends ago I visited my parents, and my mother had purchased several varieties of figs. This has become my favorite fruit, & the seasonal window is so short that I eat a lot of them when they’re available.

Fig season!

I decided to make a dish that I had pinned a few months back. I gathered the ingredients: figs, Brie, & honey. I cut the figs into small sections, and placed them in an oven safe dish. I put them and the cheese in the oven at 350 F for about 15 minutes.

Ingredients

Then I drizzled honey over the whole thing, though I didn’t drown it. The figs are sweet enough! I finished off most of this creation by myself, with gluten-free crackers.

Finished product, fresh out of the oven

Baked pears

The simplest thing when you need a quick dessert that looks fancy, or when the pears on your table are starting to go a little brown.

Ingredients:
1 pear
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (or 176 C). Slice up the pear and arrange in an oven-safe dish. Melt the butter, then mix in the honey, vanilla, and lemon juice. Pour mixture over the pears. Bake for about 20 minutes in uncovered dish, then serve. You can put vanilla ice cream on top, or eat them plain. This is one of my winter dessert obsessions.

Baked pears

Pumpkin “Soufflé”

After making a pumpkin cake for work, I had about half a can of pumpkin puree left over. I wanted to make something with the ingredients in my kitchen, so I threw a bunch of things in a bowl to see what would happen. It turned out pretty well! I’m calling it a souffle, although I suppose technically I didn’t make it quite like a souffle should be made.

8 oz pumpkin puree
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Blend all of the ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture will be quite thin. Pour into small pyrex dishes or ramekins, then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check on it to make sure it has fully cooked, it may need a little while longer to finish. It made about 4 servings, so if you want more, double the recipe.

Pumpkin "Souffle"Top with fresh whipped cream if you like!

Current favorite smoothie

I feel like I got cheated out of my summer. I don’t know where it went. Today was an especially crazy Monday, and I needed something to unwind after a long day, but I really don’t need to eat more cupcakes (I’ve eaten at least 1 per day for the last week). So I’ve been making these smoothies that take about 1 minute to make, and all of the ingredients are things that I keep in my kitchen.

1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup apple juice (or orange juice)
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 banana

Blend. Be happy.

Civic duty and chicken nuggets

I had jury duty today. I’ve never been called for jury duty before. Instead of being called to the circuit court down the road from my house, I had to take the train to downtown Chicago. It actually all worked out well, as it was a civil case and only lasted 3 1/2 hours. The judge asked if we wanted to skip lunch, which everyone was happy about since it meant we finished earlier.

When I left, I ran into the Daley Plaza Farmers Market…fresh fruit and veggies abounded, though I had to restrain myself as I had to take the train north to get home.

Tonight I decided to make my favorite new dish: battered chicken. I cut chicken breast into long strips, dipped it in 1 beaten egg, then in a separate bowl that had half corn meal, half rice flour mixed together, then threw it in a pan with some olive oil. Fried up fresh zucchini with paprika, butter, salt, and pepper…yum.

Eggplant is painful

Tonight I am making Persian food for the weekend, as I’ll be in a cabin & won’t have access to all of my nifty cooking supplies. A trick that my mom told me about was to cook a whole eggplant in the oven, then take off the skin and use the eggplant in bademjaan (eggplant, chicken, tomatoes, split yellow peas over rice). That way you don’t have to fry the eggplant!

I used a fork to see if it was done, but I had forgotten to cut a hole in the skin before I cooked it, so it exploded on me. I now have 3 burns on my hand and one on my leg. I’ve put medicine on them but it is really just classic “Sholeh”. *sigh*

My first thought was “I should blog about this.” Yeah…

Spun sugar

A few months ago we were invited over to our friends’ house for dinner. Dinner was excellent, because Jade is a fantastic cook. But when we got to dessert, I nearly died and went to heaven. Everything was made from scratch.

First she started with triple chocolate mousse:

Melting pieces of cooled sugar

Until it is melted and bubbling

Take off the heat when it starts getting sticky

Then waving the sugar around on top of the mousse until it creates a little nest.

It was SO good. Thanks Jade and Tom!

Chicken with spinach & cheese

Many of my cooking adventures begin because I am hungry, not because I carefully planned it. I look in the fridge, see what I have, and start cooking. The other night I got creative and got lucky. This recipe makes enough food for about 5 people.

Ingredients
2 lbs chicken breast, sliced thin
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
4 oz (1/2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt, pepper, garlic to taste

In a bowl, combine spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella, and spices.

Place the sliced chicken in a casserole dish.

Spread the mix on top of the chicken evenly.

Cook at 350 F for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the cheese is browned. I didn’t cover it, but if it looks like it is getting dry, put some foil on top.

I also made some mashed potatoes (salt, pepper, garlic, milk, butter, parsley), and cranberry sauce from scratch, which is very easy to make. 1 package of fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, boil.

Delicious!

Let me know if you try this recipe! It was super easy to make.

Food things

When I was little, I loved bleu cheese salad dressing.  If ever given a choice, I would choose that.  I don’t know why, especially because I find it rather revolting now (especially since it usually contains gluten).

Most salad dressings are too thick, contain ingredients that make me sick, or are just unhealthy.  I have never been a “salad for a meal” type of person.  I’ll throw down some steak and potatoes with no hesitation.  But in the summer I often have a craving for something lighter. What to do?

The other day I noticed that my glass bottle of olive oil had about 1 cup of oil left in it.  I removed the plastic insert at the opening of the bottle, and added:

1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Then I shook it up. I now have homemade dressing that I keep in my fridge, and I love it.
———————-
Over the last few years, I’ve just picked up whatever Persian tea was easily accessible. My mother tends to mix her own tea, but I don’t have the skills for that. Recently I received some Anisa Tea as a gift, and was stunned to taste something like the tea that is served in Haifa.  The one I like is the “Persian Tradition” blend, of course.

Do you have a particular kind of tea or flavor of tea that you really love?

Stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh)

For the Chicago Naw-Ruz celebration I made Persian dolmeh.  I had lent my favorite cookbook to a coworker, and realized that I needed to take another look at the recipe.  A quick Google search confirmed my fear: there were no recipes that matched what I remembered, and certainly no tutorials.  My mother’s mother taught me at a young age how to make dolmeh, and it is one of my favorite foods.  It can be an appetizer or a main dish, and is remarkably easy to make.  I took photos as I went!

Ingredients:

1 can grape leaves
2/3 cup rice
1/2 cup yellow split peas
1 tsp salt
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 lb ground beef or lamb
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 Tbs dried
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or 1 Tbs dried
3 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley or 1 cup dried
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice

1. Wash and boil yellow split peas until soft, about 1 hour.  Stir occasionally.

2. Make 2 cups of white rice, either in a pot or rice cooker.

3. (for meat eaters) Fry ground meat on the stove with onions, salt, and pepper. Drain.

4. Wash all of the greens thoroughly:

5. Then put them all in a food processor and grind until very small.

6. In a large mixing bowl, mix rice, split peas, greens, lemon juice, and meat.

6. Open jar of grape leaves, carefully rinse and untangle them.  I like to drape them around a mixing bowl or colander.

7. Place leaf on a plate, with the veins of the leaf face-up.

8. Put a spoonful of the mixture on the leaf.

9. Fold one side over.

And another side.

Until it is all wrapped and secure, and none of the mix will spill out.

10. Place in a pot on the stove.  I like to put 1 leaf on the bottom of the pot to make sure that none of the dolmeh sticks to the pot, with a little water.

11. Simmer on low with top on for about 1 hour.  The leaves will soften a bit, and there will be steam.  Serve with yogurt for dipping.

Lemon Chicken Riso

I looked at the ingredients in my kitchen last week and realized I had the ingredients for a full meal (shocking, these days, since I’m rarely home!).  So why not?

Ingredients
1 lb chicken breast, diced into cubes
1 package pre-cooked risotto
1/2 diced onion
1 bunch chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
pepper, salt, garlic to taste
Parmesan cheese

-In deep pan or shallow pot, fry Chicken, onion, parsley, pepper, salt, garlic in a tablespoon of butter.
-As soon as the chicken is nearly done, add the broth, lemon, & risotto.  Simmer for 5 minutes on low.
-When the risotto is cooked, add the heavy cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. At the very end, add Parmesan cheese.

Thanksgiving

I think I ate too much.

But all in all, it was very successful.
A nice balance of family, friends, every meal imaginable,
parties, & even some dancing!

“SAY, by reason of your remembering Him Whom God shall make manifest and by extolling
His name, God will cause your hearts to be dilated with joy,
and do ye not wish your hearts to be in such a blissful state?” -The Báb

My wild rice stuffing recipe, which I made up in Israel and perfected back home:

1 cup wild rice medley
1/8 cup raisins
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup diced dried apricots
a few tablespoons diced onions
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper

Cook rice in pot according to directions on package. In a pan, fry the butter, onions, tumeric, and dried fruit. When the rice is done, mix the fruit into the rice. Add salt & pepper to taste. SUPER easy!

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  Do you have any strange traditions?

Delicious Dinner

I realized recently that my meals have been consisting of a lot of Thai take-out and Mexican food. While this is delicious, it is not always healthy and I missed cooking. Last night I picked out a few ingredients from my fridge and started cooking. I also created a recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip banana bread, which was delicious, but am still trying to remember what I put in it…

Ingredients
1 steak, thinly cut
1/4 chopped onion
1/2 bunch chopped mustard greens
1 sweet potato, cooked and diced
olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic

Cook the steak as you normally would. I fried it on the stove in olive oil and spices on low heat, then took the steak out and used the same pan to cook the vegetables.

Fry the onions in olive oil, and the spices, then add the sweet potato and cook for 5 minutes. Add mustard greens, cook until they are soft and turn a darker green. Sprinkle lemon juice on top while they are cooking.

I had some feta cheese on the side. It took me maybe 20 minutes to make everything, including preparation.  I microwaved the sweet potato in its skin at the very beginning.  This dish could probably feed two people, especially if you have a large sweet potato.

Persian Perfume

I should start my own perfume line.  It will be based on Persian cooking, mostly.  There will be “Kabob Koobideh“, which smells like it just came off of the grill, “Persian rice”, which has the fragrant aroma of rice and saffron, and of course “Rosewater&Honey”, since that is how all Persian desserts are flavored.  There will be more fragrances as the line expands, of course, but those will be the original products.

My target market is women, especially those who want to attract a man who is looking for a wife who has some of the more…traditional…skills.  He doesn’t have to know that she ordered that ghormeh sabzi, rice, and faludeh from the local Persian restaurant.  She will smell like she has been working in the kitchen all day.  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? 😉

I will also target individuals who love Persian food but have not quite gotten the hang of making it correctly, college students who are away from home and miss their mother’s cooking, and people who really wish that they were Persian.

I’ll make a fortune. 🙂

Chicken with mustard greens

Ingredients:
onion, chopped
a few slices of ginger, diced
a few cloves garlic, diced
salt
pepper
sesame oil
soy sauce
chicken breast, cut into small pieces
peas
chopped mustard greens

1. Fry onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper in sesame oil and soy sauce.
2. Add chicken, with a 1/8 cup water if needed. Saute on medium until nearly cooked.
3. Add peas, and as soon as they are nearly cooked, add the mustard greens. Only fry for a few minutes longer, then take off the heat.
4. Serve over rice.

Stuffed chicken

My mother got this cool stretchy netting from the deli counter at our grocery store, and told me that this is how they keep the stuffing inside the chickens and such things. I have no idea where to buy such material, though. You can use twine to tie the chicken. Anyway, I made up the recipe with the ingredients we had in the kitchen, and it turned out pretty well. The process of getting the chicken into the netting was hilarious, I must say. You can click on the pictures below to see a larger version.

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, diced
dried apricots
dried prunes
dried raspberry cranberries
slivered almonds
several boneless, skinless split chicken breasts
tumeric
salt
pepper
butter or olive oil

1. Cut apricots and prunes into quarters, set aside with cranberries and almonds.

2. Fry onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and tumeric in butter or olive oil until soft.

3. Add dried fruit and almonds, simmer for a little while.

4. Place mixture into middle of chicken breast. Fold over and stuff into netting, or tie with twine. Place in roasting pan with a little bit of water at the bottom to prevent it from burning. If you have extra mix, you can just throw it into the pan.

5. Cook on 375 F for about 1 hour, checking occasionally.

upside-down apple cake

This afternoon I experimented with apple cake. I had to make something for a Thanksgiving party, and we had a lot of apples. So I found a recipe in a very old cookbook, and modified it because it was completely boring. It is not gluten-free, unfortunately, but I might try to do that in the future.

4 cooking apples, cored
lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Place butter in the bottom of a bundt pan, put the pan in the oven to melt the butter. Slice 2 of the apples very thin, lengthwise. Sprinkle lemon juice on the apples to keep them from turning brown.
2. Chop the other 2 apples into little pieces. Put in a small pot with 1/4 cup water, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons sugar, boil until apples are soft, take off heat.
3. When the butter in the pan has melted, take it out of the oven. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Make sure that the pan is greased so that the cake does not stick. Overlap the apple slices evenly around the pan, making two layers.
4. In a mixing bowl, mix the egg and sugar with an electric mixer, adding vanilla and milk. Add the baking powder and flour. Pour the apple mixture from the pot into the batter, stir well.
5. Pour batter into pan over the apples. Place the pan in the oven at 325 F, cook for 35 minutes or until cake is done. Let cool, then turn upside down. Sift Confectioner’s sugar over the finished product before serving.

Tomato cream pasta sauce

Ingredients:
1 small onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
salt
pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp chili powder (optional)
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Fry the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are clear, then add basil, tomatoes, salt, pepper, tumeric, and chili powder. Fry on medium heat for a few minutes, then add tomato paste and ½ cup water. Turn to low and simmer for 5 minutes, then add heavy cream. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta. (Other ingredients to add are mushrooms, bell peppers, and chicken, depending on what you like!)

Soup and beets

I’ve been cooking a lot, since I’m not working. In between the bouts of kitchen experimentation, I put in job applications and cross my fingers. There are two dishes that I thought I would share with you. We ate the soup on a rainy day, and it was perfect. Of course, there are lots of recipes on the internet…but this one was my creation.  🙂

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
3 medium potatoes
3 large carrots
1 onion
2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
salt, pepper
honey
cinnamon

Cut the butternut squash in half, place 1/4 cup butter, a few tablespoons of honey, and a few teaspoons of cinnamon on top. Bake in oven for 2 hours at 350 F.

While the squash is cooking, boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion in a pot of water. Drain. Put in food processor, blend well. When the squash is done, blend it in the food processor as well. Mix all of the ingredients well.

Place the milk and butter in a pot, and heat until butter is completely melted. Add all of the ingredients, including the salt and pepper, and heat until the soup is smooth and completely mixed.

A great side dish, especially with Persian food, is beets and yogurt. Ok, so a lot of people have a negative reaction to beets…but they have a lot of great qualities! Don’t judge them.

Peel a beet, and cut off the ends. Place in a pyrex dish with a few inches of water, and bake on 350 F until the beet is completely cooked. Let cool, then cut into cubes. Mix with plain white yogurt.

midnight snack

I got hungry when we came home from Baha’i Feast tonight at 11 pm. Being the slightly ridiculous person that I am when it comes to food, I decided to get creative.

Ingredients:
chopped onions & ginger
ground beef
quinoa
shredded mozzarella
tomatoes
cilantro

Fry the onions, ginger, and beef.  At the same time, cook the quinoa in a separate pot according to the instructions on the package.  Combine the beef and quinoa, and sprinkle the mozzarella over it.  Chop the tomatoes and cilantro and put it on the side.

a little bit of the grill

The ingredients in the fridge were perfect for grilling, and so I decided to make a meal of it for the family.

First, I made Persian kabob kubideh and rice. People seem to think that kabob is so difficult, but it really isn’t.

For the vegetables, I decided to get a little creative. I sliced some tomatoes in half and placed them on the grill. I also peeled, sliced, and washed some eggplant, also placing them on the grill. I basted both with melted butter.

As soon as the vegetables were cooked (making sure to turn them over), I placed slices of mozzarella cheese on top. On the tomatoes I placed some leaves of fresh basil, and on the eggplant I put some garlic and fresh cilantro. As soon as the cheese was melted, I took the vegetables off the grill.

And yes, it was delicious.

Okra?!

It is that odd little vegetable that most people don’t seem to know what to do with. In the southeastern United States, we put it in gumbo or breaded and fried. As a kid, I loved going to restaurants in South Carolina or Georgia, where I would pile my plate high with fried okra and mashed potatoes. In Persian cuisine, it is cooked in a stew of beef, tomatoes, potatoes, and onion. This is probably one of the most simple dishes to make, and I make it often.

Some people don’t like the consistency of okra…well, not much I can do about that! I try not to overcook the okra (I put it in at the very end), so it isn’t quite so slimy. Here is my recipe for khoresht-e bamieh. It serves about5 people, since I really only know how to cook for a family.

1 onion, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small can tomato paste (several tablespoons)
1 pound cubed beef
1 package of frozen okra, or 1/2 pound fresh okra
salt, pepper
1 teaspoon tumeric

If you have a slow cooker, just throw all of the ingredients in except for the okra, let it cook overnight, and then put the okra in for the last hour. If not, it takes a few more steps:

Fry onions, meat, and spices on low heat with a little bit of oil and water for about 40 minutes, until browned. In a separate pot, boil the potatoes at the same time. Combine all ingredients in pot and cook for another hour.

Eat as a stew by itself, or over rice.

A dinner of epic proportions

Last night our friend Daniel B. invited me, my flatmate Sahar, and a few other friends to a dinner at his new apartment to celebrate his move from our building. We arrived at 6 pm and started helping prepare the food. We tried turning on the stove to start frying veggies…

and it wouldn’t light. No gas was coming out.

Sahar and I trooped around to the back of the building to see if the gas balloon had run out. As we turned the corner, we encountered a large dog chained on the hill above us. After consultation we decided to walk past him calmly and ignore the barking.

As I checked each of the gas ballons, Sahar chatted with the dog. It was impossible to tell which one was for Daniel’s apartment. We threw up our hands in despair and went back inside. Daniel called a few other Baha’is on that street and Adam C. kindly offered his stove. Sahar and Jayce took some of the food over to start the process.

As Daniel and I were preparing the rest of the food, the fuse blew. Twice. We couldn’t find the fuse box at first, finally locating it in the hallway outside his door.

Sahar called when she got to Adam’s house. “Um…the stove here isn’t working, the guys are trying to figure it out.” I started laughing. They eventually got it lit (someone had turned off their gas line!) and we ate dinner at 9 pm.

It was a wonderful adventure, and we ate a ridiculous amount of food when it was all over.

Experiments in the kitchen!

Recently I’ve been trying to expand my repertoire of dishes. Last night I made Sholeh zard for the first time (literal translation: yellow flame), which is basically saffron rice pudding. It is usually made in remembrance of the dead, but honestly it is one of my favorite Persian dishes. I had a bunch of friends try it and I got pretty decent reviews…and it is pretty easy to make.

For dinner I was at a friend’s house after work, so I had a limited number of ingredients. I scrounged around (having brought slices of turkey lunchmeat and a red pepper), and this is what I came up with! Adjust amount according to how many people you are serving.

Ingredients:
olive oil
red pepper (also known as Capsicum), sliced into thin strips
mushrooms, sliced
onion, diced
garlic, diced
pinch of basil
salt
pepper
cheese (I used Laughing Cow wedges)
turkey slices (or bread)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Fry the olive oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper in a pan until the onion starts to turn clear. Add the mushrooms, basil, salt, pepper. At the very end, add the cheese on top and let it melt slightly (not too much).

I wrapped the finished mixture in turkey slices to eat since I can’t eat bread, but you can experiment and see what you like to do.

Potato Soup

so there are helicopters fluttering in my soul
unimpressed with this current state of mind.
retreat, retreat!
the horns blow,
and I know that the spaces after words are
settled in their designated places.

——————————————

I invested in a slow cooker in order to be more efficient in my cooking endeavors (as well as a kitchen timer to avoid burning food, especially when I bake). The other day I adapted a potato soup recipe that I found online, and it turned out very well. I thought I would share it here. It is very rich, so if you want to substitute things, feel free to play around with it.

Ingredients:
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can of white beans, drained
2 bunches of spring onions, diced
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour (I used bean flour to make it gluten-free)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Put all ingredients in the slow cooker at once, adding about 1-2 cups of water, and stir. You can use whatever setting you want, I used the slower setting and let it cook all night (about 12 hours). Check on it occasionally at the beginning you will want to check on it, stirring it to make sure the ingredients mix together.