PFB #2: Out of my comfort zone with Iranian cuisine…

September 26th, 2010

I like recipes with a story… this one has a story…

During the summer when I was about thirteen or fourteen, my family had dinner with good friends. An Iranian woman joined us. Now, I was definitely a teenager– self-conscious, unsure of myself and moody. She wanted me to teach her how to dance like an American. I took dance for over twelve years. I love dancing. But that day, I was embarrassed. I had no desire to dance in front of family and friends in a living room. What if I looked like an idiot?

Eventually, I warmed up…perhaps it was the delicious salmon and tahdig… or once I learned that she had been thrown in jail for talking to a male friend on the street… or the fact that she was down right awesome… We ended up dancing the night away in the living room… Sharing a bit of our culture with one another. It was truly one of my best experiences.

When I saw this challenge, I immediately thought of this recipe. After some emails and a wonderful friend who quickly responded with the details, I made the dill salmon with tahdig for our dinner. Tahdig is the crunchy buttery rice from the bottom of the pan. This is a traditional Iranian dish served on the first day of spring. I served it with traditional Sabzi Khordan and Alounak’s Persian Flatbread that I found in Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.

The dinner was amazing! The rice did come out a little mushy, as I always struggle to cook it properly. But I did learn to make homemade pita! and I juiced an onion!  Did you know you can juice an onion?  More importantly, I shared this meal with people important to me. A meal that represents a time when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learned so much.

Iranian Salmon with Dill and Lemons

Juice of 1 Medium onion (using a food processor, chop up the onions and then press them through cheesecloth or strainer)
one medium garlic crushed
Lemon juice (about 1/4 cup)
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
Dill (about two tablespoons chopped)
2-3 pounds of Salmon

1. Wash the fish first and dry it.
2. Mix all ingredients together and pour over the fish.
3. Leave it in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
4. Heat oven 200 or 250 Centigrade
5. Put small pieces of butter over the fish
6. Bake the fish for 15-20 minutes

Rice with Dill

1. Rinse 3 cups rice several times and cover with warm water and salt, let it soak for a at least half a day.
2. Dump out the salt water and rinse with fresh water.
3. Start cooking the rice on the stove on high temp, mix occasionally.
4. Collect and discard the foam from the rice as it is cooking.
5. Add the dill, (I use 2 1/2 small bottles of dill for 2 cups of rice. It should look rather green)
6. Take one or two grain and taste it to see if the centre of the grain is cooked, it should not be too soft, just not hard. (I cooked it for too long. Check it after ten minutes).
7. Pass the rice through a sieve and rinse with warm water.
8. Pour half cup of oil (not olive- I used vegetable) and tablespoon butter in the pan and add half cup of water on medium heat till the butter melts.
9. Pour most of the liquid in a cup and leave small amount on the bottom for tahdig.
10. You can put slices of raw potato or pita bread on the bottom of the pan, then add the rice.
11. Make several holes into the rice with the handle of a long spoon for the steam to be able to come out.
12. Cover the pan and let it be on medium heat till steam builds up on the inside cover of the pan. At this time pour the rest of the liquid all over the rice and turn the heat to very low.
13. Wrapp the cover of the pan in a thick cloth and cover the rice with it. It should cook slowly for at least an hour. This rice should look very flaky and soft to bite on.

Green Curry for Dinner… yum!

September 15th, 2010

mmm… great dinner of Green Chicken Curry... next time though… I’d like it a little spicier…

Cumin Turkey Breast with Pomegranate Sauce…

August 1st, 2010

Doesn’t that look beautiful? Those piercing dark eyes… perfectly chiseled chin… yum… oh yes, this is a food blog… I’m afraid I have become a little obsessed with Mad Men… not just because Don Draper is a beautiful man (although he is a plus)… the show is brilliantly written and so subtle with its details… often you have to read between the lines to really understand the characters’ interactions and reactions…  If you have not already seen it… what are you waiting for?

In keeping with the Mad Men theme, I realized I was quite the 60s housewife when I roasted a turkey yesterday (now if only I were wearing one of Betty’s poofy dresses at the time…). This was part of our next round of Tasty (Kitchen) Tennis where we use pomegranate for dinner and dessert (stay tuned- post coming soon!). Aaron suggested a pomegranate sauce that is like cranberry sauce with turkey but he is a vegetarian. So, I ran with the idea and came up with Cumin Turkey Breast with a Pomegranate- Thyme Sauce… It was delicious and disappeared quickly… I should have gone with a whole turkey and not just the breast… I used the technique I learned from the Barefoot Contessa to put the butter mixture under the skin… so delicious!

Cumin Turkey Breast

3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 turkey breast

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325.
2. Mix all the ingredients together. Cover the turkey with the butter mixture and make sure to put some under the skin. Stick a meat thermometer in the meat so that it is in the center.
3. Roast until the meat thermometer reaches 170 (about 1.5-2 hours).
4. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let sit for about 20 minutes.
5. Slice and enjoy!

Pomegranate- Thyme Sauce

1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup Pomegranate Juice
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds (I used dried ones and they worked great)
1 tsp thyme
2 packets gelatin

1. In a pan, cook the onions until they are soft.
2. Add the pomegranate juice and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Sprinkle with thyme.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin packets. It will thicken as it cools. You could also probably add some more sugar and bring to a boil to thicken it. However, I did not want to add any unnecessary sugar.

Disclaimer: POM sent me a case of pomegranate-blueberry juice that was the inspiration for this dish.