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Archive for the ‘Side Dish’ Category

Lamb Shank1 (Medium)

I like lamb shanks, so long as they 1) don’t smell and 2) they are not dry.  I was inspired to make lamb shank because a couple of months ago I had Baghali Polow from Shayan Market in Torrance and that’s what the polow came with. This was my very first try and I had no idea how to go about it.  I consulted a few cookbooks and  the Internet and found nothing that inspired me.  I searched deep within  my own bank of culinary knowledge and consulted with The Sous Chef, who didn’t have any knowledge on how to go about preparing lamb shank either.

Determined to make a go at it, I entered the kitchen and began “Lamb Shank Mission.”  I say mission because I  wanted to make sure that the meat would not be tough yet flavorful, yet not too flavorful to overpower the delicate polow.  I was rather impressed with myself with the results.  Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, this experiment came out better than my wildest expectations.

So here is my way of making Lamb Shank, it is a bit labor intensive, but well worth all the steps. 🙂

Ingredients

4 lamb shanks, about 3lb

1 large onion

10 garlic cloves, crushed

4 carrots

3 dried Persian Limes

olive oil

salt & pepper

Lamb Shank2 (Small)

Wash and pat dry lamb shanks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Place lamb shanks in a dutch oven and brown for a few minutes on each side to seal in flavor.

Lamb Shank5 (Small)

I know what you are thinking right now, why did she pick a small dutch oven? I have no idea.  I do have a bigger one that I love, but I guess habit took over. The one that you see in these picture is my most trusted and loved item to cook with it. If asked what I would take with me on a deserted island, my answer would be our orange dutch oven.  I also realized that you might think that we love the color orange around here. All three of our dutch ovens are orange and as you can see one of our cutting boards is also orange.  I swear, it is all a coincidence. I, as a matter of fact, do not like orange. This set of cutting boards came in various colors one of them being the one you see in these pictures. It was decided that because it was a color not well liked, it would be the designated board upon which meat and fish are cut in our house. Now, back to the recipe.

Lamb Shank6 (Small)

Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper and then flip them over to brown the opposite side.

Lamb Shank3 (Small)

In the mean time, crush garlic cloves. Cut onion and carrots.  If you have celery on hand, you might want to add that to the mix. It is actually great for flavoring. I didn’t have any.  PS.  please note the white cutting board used to cut non-meat stuff. I know, we are a bit anal sanitary! Bear with me.

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Remove lamb shanks from dutch oven and place aside. Add a bit of oil to the pot and add veggies.  Saute for a few minutes until onion turns translucent. You are essentially doing all the necessary steps for a braise.

Lamb Shank8 (Small)

Give Persian Limes a little crush and add to the veggies.  Place lamb shanks on top. Cover with 2 cups of water and season with some salt to give the broth some flavor.  Cover the dutch oven.

Lamb Shank9 (Small)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook for 2 hours. Half way through move the pieces around making sure that the parts exposed don’t dry up.

Lamb Shank10 (Small)

This is how it should look once it come comes out of the oven two hours later.  The level of the liquid should have decreased into a delicious juice flavored by the veggies and the meat should be tender.

Lamb Shank11 (Small)

Yum! Look at that delicious and juicy lamb shank! When serving with Baghali Polow you might want to pour some of the meat juice over the rice for extra flavor.  You won’t be sorry, I promise!

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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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