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Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Pita Chips Salt & Pepper1 (Medium)

My last post featured Mast-o-musir, and if you look at the picture you will notice that I serve mine with pita chips.  Because I was ever so ambitious that day, believe it or not by the end of the day I had four different recipes for posting, I decided to experiment with pita chips making, which is something that I had never done before.

I love pita bread. When you step into any Persian Market you will notice that there are a variety of brands and sizes of pita breads.  I especially love pita bread when it is fresh and very soft. I have to tell you all a little secret, I was introduced to pita bread when I moved to the US.  You wonder why? Because Pita is originally Arabic and I had never seen it in Iran back in the days.

I can’t begin to tell you how fascinated and blown away I was the first time I had a pita chip. I was immediately a fan! You should know that I am chipsaholic. I love chips, they make me happy, period.

Now that I told you one of my deepest secrets, let’s get back to the scope of this post. I have been thinking about experimenting on my own with the homemade type.  I found that for me it is the best thing to do with left over bread that is no longer soft.  It is super easy to make as you will see below.

This recipe make 24 wedges of pita chips.

Ingredients

3 slices  of pita bread

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Pita Chips Salt & Pepper2 (Small)

Preheat your oven to 370 degrees. Place your pita slices on a cutting board.  Cut each round into quarters.

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Then cut the quarters in half.

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You may be very detail oriented, and perhaps thrive to make sure that all of your slices are the same exact size. Me? Nop, as you can see above, mine vary in size, some are skinnier than others!!!!

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Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  That’s how clever/lazy people do things, so that they don’t have to wash the baking sheet afterwards! That’s how I roll, folks!

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Pour some olive oil into a small bowl.

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Brush the top of each pita with olive oil.

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Grind some sea salt on top of each slice. You can use Kosher salt, but please, please, please, don’t use regular salt. It makes such a huge difference to use fancy salt!

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Next step is to grind some pepper on the slices.

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Then put them in the oven and bake them for 15 minutes.

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Once they come out, they should look like this! YUM!

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Mast-o-musir1 (Medium)

Today’s newest recipe post is one of The Sous Chef’s favorites: Mast-o-musir, which is a delicious combination of Lebni and shallots. Must-o-musir literally means yogurt and shallots in Farsi.

As you may have noticed there is a lot of memory associated with a lot of food that I love eat and cook.  I love sharing, so here is another one for you all!

Every time I make or eat this dip it takes me back to the first time I was introduced to it as well as the first time The Sous Chef was introduced to it.

In the early eighties I was in elementary school and a kid who was used to the free life in Italy but lived where whatever happened at home remained at home.  So if there were parties, gatherings, and alcohol was served, the information was not to be shared with anyone out of fear that the news would get passed on the the Komiteh, ya know the ones that made sure that no one had a good time and obeyed the rules of the clergy.

One day my father and his girlfriend at the time we putting together a pool party.  I was only there during the set up time. As they were putting the food items out I got to taste this new dip which I had never had before.  It was white and looked like yogurt but it had a strong smell to it.  I was told that you ate it by dipping a potato chip in it.  So I complied. There was something so delicious about the combination of flavors. I loved how the delicate flavor of the firm yogurt with a touch of shallots came together with the  saltiness of the potato chips. My life has never been the same after thats day.  In some funny way, today this dip is one of my favorite comfort foods. I just love, love, LOVE it!  The world can come crashing down, but all will be well as long as I get to curl up on the couch with my mast-o-musir and chips.

The first time The Sous Chef tried this dip he would have licked the inside of the container it came in if he could, that’s how much he liked it! So here is the story: for our first monthversary, yes you read it right, month-versary, I know it is a bit cheesy, but bear with me, I took the Sous Chef on a beach picnic. I packed a nice spread of Iranian food, amongst which was a store bought container of mast-o-musir.   It was a love affair from the very first taste, I tell ya.! Next thing I know, the ambitious man that he is,  he started making his own masto-o-musir.  Nowadays, the store bought kind is not good enough for him! He literally will eat spoon fulls of mast-o-musir!

The picnic was a success and as time went by I sure realized that whomever said that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” was not smoking crack! It is true, I am sure The Sous Chef can attest to that!

Back to business here! Enough about the stories, let’s move on to this very difficult and complicated recipe, NOT! It is actually a very simple recipe and it only takes a few minutes to prepare, BUT it is best to let it rest a few hours in order for the flavors to blend in.

One more thing before we start. I would like to point out that there are a couple of options as far as the shallots go. Some people like to use dried shallots others like to use fresh shallots.  We always make our Mast-o-musir with fresh shallots.

We love eating this dip with either pita chips or regular potato chips. You can also serve it with bread, if you wish.

Ingredients:

1 small shallot

1 container of Lebni (16 oz)

Mast-o-musir2 (Medium)

I had a couple of shallots and for this recipe I picked the one of the left.

Mast-o-musir3 (Medium)

Fine dice the shallot. Beware, your eyes and nose are going to be affected during this process. I love shallots, but I hate the fact that they make me cry every time I chop them! Anyway, sometimes shallots can be bitter. Some people let them soak in water for a few hours to release the bitterness.  We don’t but the important thing is to not go overboard with shallots, if you have too much, it is going to completely overpower the whole dip. Unless you are like The Sous Chef who likes to eat his shallots with yogurt!!!!!

Mast-o-musir4 (Medium)

Place the lebni and shallots in a bowl.

Mast-o-musir5 (Medium)

Mix them thoroughly.  Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours.  Serve with regular potato chips or pita chips.

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This page has been moved: My Persian Kitchen: Kashkeh Bademjan

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lima-bean-kuku13-medium1

I am all cuckoo for Kuku (pronounced kookoo)!

I always like saying that about Kuku. For those of you who have not had this particular Persian dish, it is somewhat comparable to the Italian  Frittata or the French  Quiche. I say somewhat comparable because while it is considered an egg dish, unlike in a Frittata or Quiche the eggs are not necessarily the main stars of Kuku.  In this dish the veggies that are used play the primary role and the eggs keep it all together.

There are several different Kukus in Persian cooking.  I would like to start with this one because I only had it for the first time a few years back and it was delicious.  I got the idea for this dish from the cookbook New Food of Life. I have changed the amount of the ingredients used in it, because I am a rebel and consequently, it made the dish much better.  :)

All right let’s get started here…to think of it, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine here…you’ll see why as we proceed!

Ingredients

1lb lima beans

4 eggs

1 onion diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch of fresh dill

1/2 tsp backing powder

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp  butter

salt & pepper

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Aaaww look at the beauty in the picture above! I have to tell you a little secret. In theory you could make this dish with dried dill, but do me a favor, don’t! Fresh dill does wonders to this dish and the smell of it while it cooks will tease your nose to no end and make you hungry!  You see this whole bunch? I used it all, oh happiness!

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Sauté  onions and garlic in olive oil until nice and golden.  In the mean time cook lima beans per the package’s instructions.  Don’t forget to add a little pinch of salt! I used frozen lima beans but wished that I had fresh ones.   During this time give your dill a nice rough chop and set aside.

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Once the lima beans are ready drain them in a colander and gather all of your ingredients around you.  First crack your eggs in a mixing bowl, add salt, pepper, and baking powder.

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Give it all a nice mix to incorporate and break the yolks.

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Now add the rest of your ingredients making sure that it is all mixed well

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Warm up your pan and melt 1 tbsp of butter and throw in your mixture.  From this point forward the name of the game is patience. Cover the pan and cook on low for about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Once you notice that the mixture is firming up make a cross dividing the mixture into four pieces. This is going to help with the flipping process.

Now  I have to tell you that in my kitchen all was going well. It was a nice and sunny day outside, the birds were singing, the woodpeckers were pecking in the trees across the street ( no joke we have them around here!), and the smell of the Kuku was totally flirting with my nose.  I flipped the Kuku and….

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This happened. Now I can only attribute the disaster above to 2 specific reasons: 1) over confidence/ ambition, and 2) khareeat, which in Farsi means being or acting stupid! You see I was being all snazzy and cool and I decided to make the kuku in a cast iron pan whereas I should have used a non-stick pan.  Just as this was happening Sleeping Beauty The Sous Chef walked it and said: “Wow what happened?!” “Um, yeah, disaster happened.” Suffice to say though that while the result looks pretty pathetic, the taste was delicious –it was gone as soon as it left the pan! I made sure to take a picture of it for you so that you won’t make the same silly mistake.

When I was much younger I was terrified of failure. I am not saying that I am no longer afraid of  failing, but what I am saying is that life is all about winning some and losing some.  It is also true that the taste of success is THAT much sweeter when you have failed before.  You see, I am stubborn and resilient –bent me out of shape and I will spring right back up and fight back.  So after the disaster I purchased the necessary ingredients and went at it again.  All was going well until I was taking the chopped onion and garlic to the pan to dump it in there as the oil was ready.

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Then somehow my flexible cutting board gave out and half of the onions fell off onto the floor.  Some explosive words may have flown in the air while I looked at the mess on the floor in bewilderment.  Is this damn recipe cursed???? Remember the comment about resilience? I said screw it, I am taking a picture and I am going forward.  I cut up some more onions to replace the ones I lost and went back to work.

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Backing up a little to when you warm up your pan. Please use a non-stick pan.  Put in a tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Then add the egg mixture, cover and cook on low for about 15-20 minutes.

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Divide the mixture into four portions and carefully flip each section while at the same time slipping a little butter in the pan.  Your first slice is not going to be easy, that’s for sure.  As you can see above mine got a little messy with some of the mixture flying onto the stove.  Cook this side for another 15 minutes or so.

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Remove from the pan, place in a plate and serve warm.

Phew, I am so glad this recipe is done and over with! We almost didn’t make it, twice! Kuku can be served either as an appetizer or side dish.

This is a gluten free dish –simply make sure that your baking powder is gluten free.

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borani-7-medium1

In Persian borani is an appetizer which is made with yogurt and some type of vegetable. Today’s recipe is Borani Esfanaj, which is yogurt with spinach. I love this version of this recipe because it is not only very easy to make, but it is healthy for a variety of reasons. Firstly, both yogurt and spinach are considered to be SuperFoods.  Secondly, this recipe is made simply with the two ingredients without the addition of any type of fat. You can choose to make this dish with either plain, low fat, or non fat yogurt. The only exception is that it is best to use yogurt that is firm. You will usually find these at Persian or ethnic stores. It is my finding that most yogurts purchased from regular stores are a bit too thin for this dish.

In terms of SuperFood yogurt, which is essentially curdled milk,  is a good source of calcium as well as vitamin B-12, B2, magnesium, and potassium.  Additionally, yogurt contains probiotics which are live microorganisms that can help the digestive system. Probiotics are commonly known to be “the live and active cultures” reference that is usually seen on yogurt labels.  It is also believed that yogurt boosts the immune system through bacterias which are actually good for our intestines. In fact, all my life I have always been told to eat plenty of yogurt when taking antibiotics which not only kill the bacteria that is making you sick but also the bacteria that helps with your digestion. What yogurt does in such cases in balance the bacteria in our body. Remember that a good digestive and immune systems are an important component to good health.

Spinach on the other hand is a green leaf vegetable which for years has been associated with providing an energy boost.  As a child I never liked spinach. Not even Popeye’s love for it could fool me into eating it! Perhaps, there was a lesson to be learned for us through this cartoon! It took me a few years, but now I absolutely love it.  We are often told about the great benefits of any type of veggie with green leaves which have antioxidant and cancer fighting benefits.  Additionally, spinach is known to be a good source of iron for those who are anemic and also helps fight cardiovascular disease. I personally highly recommend to buy fresh spinach instead of the frozen type for this recipe. I know it takes a little more work, but it makes the dish taste much better!
Basically, with this recipe for Borani you are getting  one hell of a nutritional synergy! Don’t ever say I am not good to you! :)
So let’s get started here!

Ingredients
5 cups of fresh spinach
2 cups of yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

borani-2-smallSteam the spinach for a few minutes until wilted.

borani-3-smallThen place in a colander to drain liquid. It is very important that all the liquid is removed from the spinach. Just take it between your hands and squeeze the liquid out

borani-4-smallGive it all a nice chop chop ensuring that it will be more manageable when eating

borani-5-smallPlace yogurt and spinach in a dish. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper

borani-6-smallMix the ingridients well. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving. This not only will chill the dish but it will also allow for the flavors to incorporate. You can serve Borani Esfanaj with pita bread, pita chips, potato chips, or naan. Additionally, it can also be used as a dip for veggies.

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