Celebrating Mexico @ Mexique!

December 22nd, 2010


Lately I’m not one for restaurants with modern decor and fancy food, I just want good ole comfort food with good friends, wine and conversation… my evening at Mexique was modern and fancy with some good food and new friends… it was lovely!  I was invited by the Mexican Tourism Board to celebrate the addition of Mexican Cuisine to the UNESCO list.  The chef, Carlos Gaytan, used traditional Mexican ingredients in his beautiful, artistic and modern dishes.  A quick review of our menu…

Ceviche: Ahi Tuna, Avocado Mousse, Chipotle Aioli, Mango Habanero Galette-  The first course was actually my least favorite.  It was good.  I love avocado and tuna but I was underwhelmed.

Mole y Maiz: Jamaica Braised Pork Belly, Mole Teloloapan, Fresh Corn Tamal, Butternut Squash Foam-  This course was great.  The mole sauce worked perfectly with the pork belly.  As always, I thought the foam was unnecessary… does anyone like foam?

Carne Asada: Grilled Flank Steak, Fingerling Potato Salad, Spinach, Asparagus, Roasted Red Pepper Chipotle and Goat Cheese Fondue- The courses just kept getting better.  The sauce was excellent.  I loved that Chef Carlos was very open about how he made his dishes.  I jotted down his recipe and can’t wait to try it.

Tequila: Chef Carlos served tequila as a digestive before dessert.  I unfortunately did not catch the name but it was good.

Chocolate Tamal: Warm Rare Chocolate Tamal, Pistachios, Papantla Vanilla Ice Cream- The grand finale was this amazingly fudgy chocolate cake dessert.  The chocolate was very intense but the vanilla ice cream helped balance it.

Overall, I really liked the meal.  I met some new foodies and saw some old friends.  At times, I would have preferred less promotion so I could really focus on the meal but it was a lot of fun.  Plus they sent us home with an amazing Mexican cookbook… Can’t wait to explore!

Disclaimer: This dinner was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism board and I was invited free of charge.

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)
Salt
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.

An Appetizer… Thank you for voting!

September 25th, 2010

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for voting for me! I made it to the second round of Project Food Blog.

I have been working on the next challenge… tomorrow I’ll unveil my Classic Ethnic Dinner…

Now just a little appetizer… Sabzi Khordan and Alounak’s Persian Flatbread that I found in Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.

Sabzi Khordan
equal bunches of cilantro/tarragon/mint/basil, chopped
1 bunch of radishes, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
8 oz. feta, crumbled
olive oil

Mix it all together. Eat with Alounak’s Persian Flatbread.

Alounak’s Persian Flatbread

1 tsp. dried yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
9 oz flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
olive oil

1. Proof the yeast with the yeast, sugar and a little water for about 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add a little water at a time until it comes into a ball. (I used maybe only 1/2 cup of water in total).
3. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and leave it to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
4. Set oven to at least 450 and place a baking sheet in it.
5. Once the dough as risen, divide in four balls. Roll into dinner plate sized portions using a rolling pin. Stretch a little more with you hands. Leave them to proof for a half an hour.
6. Grease the baking pan with olive oil. Prick the dough with a fork. Place on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. The bread will puff up.