Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beef recipe: Kashk Bademjan

I attended an Iranian dinner party the other night. Hosted by Kali, all food prepared by Marjan (with a teeny help from Kali and I) and attended by many! Let me tell you the food was a-maz-ing! It was the perfect night to break in her newly decorated kitchen, more on my kitchen decorating later. Anyhow, the first reason I chose to make this dish at home was because it looked easier than the rest. The second was that because it was so tasty Marjan literally had to slap our hands away from the pan. She then hid the dish in the oven and when it was heating before guests arrived... I had to promise her not to eat it while she did her makeup. Basically I was a little child with my mommy telling me "No!". I like to think its a compliment of sorts, that Marjans cooking was so good that it took these extreme measures to keep us from devouring it all before guests arrived. You're welcome, Marjan.
Anyway, one key ingredient that I don't actually own (gasp!) is kashk. I used sour cream instead, as it was the most similar thing I could attain. Kashk is fermented though, and I supposed Ill never really get that flavor in its true form without the kashk. Another thing that is important is that you try your hardest to get Japanese eggplant. I have seen these types of eggplants in every kind of Asian ethnic store Ive ever visited. Indian, Chinese, Japanese... the eggplant is there. I made the dish once with regular eggplant and it was a bit different. If you cant get the Japanese variety, you can use regular eggplant, just add the saltwater soaking step.
Anyhow here is the outline of the recipe as I remember it, and per Marjan's verbal notes:
Kashk Bademjan via Marjan
1 lb ground beef preferably very lean (there will be plenty of other fat!)
4-5 Japanese eggplant, or 3 medium regular eggplants*, peeled and cut into roughly 3cm cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T turmeric
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 c sour cream
dried mint
lard for cooking (or oil if you prefer)
*If you're using regular eggplant, you ll need a saltwater soak. Make some very salty water in a big bowl, add eggplant and cover with a plate. Weigh it down with a can or cup or something. You want all the eggplant to be submerged. After about 30 mins, drain and continue with recipe.
1. In a large pan/pot/wok over medium high heat, brown ground beef well. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
2. Add to the pan the chopped onion. If there isn't enough fat left from the beef, add some lard. Brown the onion very well (see pic below). Add the garlic and cook for about 3-5 more mins, until cooked but not burned. Set aside with the beef (I just add it to one big bowl).
3. Add about 1/4 cup lard to the pan and let heat for a minute. Add all the eggplant and stir very fast until its all coated.
4. Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover. The steam will help the egg plant begin to cook. When the water is almost gone, uncover and fry until the eggplant is very soft and brown, stirring every few mins.
5. Add the beef and onion/garlic mixture back to the pan, and add the turmeric and tomato paste. Stir to combine. You'll want to mash up the eggplant pieces a little too, just until they are a little smaller than bite size. I like mine a little chunky though traditionally it supposed to be a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Add sour cream. Salt to taste (about 1 t for me).
6. Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with dried mint fried in a little oil. I like a lot of mint, but base it on your taste. Usually this is served with lavash bread (similar to pita... kinda) but since I don't eat bread (MOST of the time) I made some cauliflower chips to go with it.
Cauliflower Chips
1 head cauliflower
EVOO or coconut oil, melted
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Cut cauliflower in half. Place halves cut side down and slice into 1/4-1/3 inch slices.
3. Spread out on a baking sheet in one layer (may take 2 pans) and coat in EVOO or melted CO.
4. Bake for about 20 mins. Flip the slices over and bake 20 more mins, or until browned and slightly crispy.
Don't be afraid!!! Yes its lard.
Yes the container is broken from dropping it... hey, it gets used!
Ingredients in the pan. Clockwise from top: ground beef,
tomato paste, fried eggplant, fried onions and garlic, turmeric.
Finished dish, garnished with some mint,
and served with crispy cauliflower "chips".
Close up. Yum yum.
I'm all about the cauliflower-chip-cutesy thing...
but here's how I really ate it b/c I was STARVING!
Cauliflower topped with kashk bademjan and mint.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wedding cupcakes, a preview.

The real pics from my sisters wedding arent in yet, so these less-than-stellar ones will have to suffice.

Chocolate cake with orange buttercream and a candied orange peel.
Strawberry cake with chocolate buttercream.



Updates, yo.

I think I have a seaweed problem. This is all the seaweed I own. Love it!

Watermelon+ginger+lime juice+peppercorns+basil+club soda=YUM!
Directions: place evrything but club soda in blender and blend. Strain. Add soda. Done!

Papaya salad. I was going for GREEN papaya salad but I guess it wasnt green enough. Still yum.

Dry-fried green beans. With little dreid shrimps. Umami here I come!

Full english brekkie! Starting at the toast: toast, fried tomato, fried mushrooms, hash (potatoes, apple and sage), sausage, bacon, beans (the english kind... more tomatoey) and my eggs are hidden under there somewhere. Lets not forget the tea.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I have been living a ridiculously tomatoey life, and love it.

I probably eat about 3 tomatoes a day. I cant help it. They are SO good. Between my plants, the CSA and my dads garden, I just really dont have a choice. Darn. Here is what Ive been doing with them. Mostly sammies, but some salads and stir fries as well.
Perfect makins for a perfect sammie: Fried sprouted bread (in BUTTER), counrty dijon, raw cheddar and a tomato.

Tomatoes with EVOO, pepper, basil.

Green zebras and yellow tomatoes on goat cheese.

More sammie awesome.

I think the goldies are my fave. A close second: striped german. YUMMY!!!

Fresh tomato tart and CSA picnic.

For black pepper parmesan pastry (adapted from epicurious)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons VERY cold unsalted butter, grated
  • 2 tablespoons cold lard
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

1. Blend all ingredients except water.

2. Add water very slowly until it holds form.

3. Press into tart shell and bake at 375F for about 30 min.

For filling

6 oz goat cheese, blended with 2 T chopped tarragon and 2 t country dijon.

About 4 sliced tomatoes (I used lillians yellow and red slicers)

Tarragon, pepper and parmesan for garnish.

1. Slice tomatoes and set in strainer so extra juice flows out.

2. Spread goat cheese mix in bottom of tart shell, gently!

3. Top with tomatoes.

4. Garnish... done!

Pics of the farm:

Rows of cabbages.

Onion curing area.
Me being vain. :)
Pretty flowers everywhere.

Little sisters Bday cake.

Sarah turned 8. I made her cake.

It consisted of chocolate cake, raspberry cake, chocolate buttercream, raspberry buttercream, royal icing decorations and all kinds of fresh, pink flowers from Emily and Ben at Mile Creek Farm (CSA providers).
I made the cake and buttercream ahead and assembled it the night before, then did the tiers and decorations before the party. I also made the royal icing decorations (with sparkle powder) the night before so they had time to harden.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cherry brandy and brandied cherries?

Brandied cherries:
1 cup H2O
cinnamon stick
maple syup
1. Boil for about 5 min, then add 1/2 cup brandy!
2. Place cherries in a jar and cover with mixture.
3. Let sit for 2 days, or a few months...

Cherry brandy: sqish cherries into a jar and cover with brandy. Hide for a few months.
Hopefully these will both be ready by Xmas...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Peach, berry and bacon "clafoutis"...

Crust is made from ground almonds and butter.
Layered with cmbly bacon (just a little), sliced fresh peaches and black raspberries.
Sort of a deep clafouti/tart. Batter is egg whites, butter and some coco flour.
Oh and the middle pic I put the crust on top... that was better b/c it got crispy.

Gazpacho with roasted tomatillos and basil cream.

3 tomatillos, roasted at 400 for about 20 min.
3 med tomatoes
half a bell pepper
half a cucumber
half an onion
1 garlic clove
dash tabasco
1. Add everything to blender... blend!
Basil Cream
1 cup cream
1 cup basil
1. I used a stick blender but you can use a food processor.
Serve: Spoon gazpacho into bowl, drizzle with basil cream and mix in some avocado chunks! YUM.

Pesce spada alla Norma.

Pasta alla Norma, but with swordfish. YUM.

Pesce Spada alla Norma
1 4 or 5oz swordfish steak, cooked however you want (I broiled mine with some lemon).
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, salted, drained and pat dry.
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 celery tops, minced
1 cup basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
2 T tomato paste
Sprinkle of oregano
Goat cheese
1. Het some lard in a nonstick pan over medhigh heat. Fry eggplant in lard until soft and golden. Make sure the lard is good and hot so the eggplant wont just sop it all up. Having the eggplant WELL drained and pat VERY dry also helps. I used about 2 T lard and had some left when the eggplant was done. Trust me, if you do it right, you wont have oil sponge eggplant yuck.
2. At the last few seconds, sprinkle oregano onto eggplant so it wakes up a little. Remove eggplant from pan.
3. Turn heat to med. Add onion to pan, cook for about 2 min. Add tomato, garlic and celery tops to pan. Let cook about 10 min until tomato is soft and breaking up.
4. Add tomato paste and a little water to dissolve. Heat for a couple mins.
5. Add basil leaves at the last minute and serve. I put in on top of swordfish steaks but you can do whatever sounds yummy! Sprinkle goat cheese on top (supposed to be ricotta salata but I really like goat cheese).

CSA Week 10

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dayton Restaraunt Week. July 26-31, 2009. Meadowlark review.

Here is what I ate tonight for dinner (this was all $20.09 for restaraunt week):

1. Spicy Shrimp and Watermelon with Basil, Mint and Nuoc Cham.

2. Harissa-brushed Swordfish with Sicilian Couscous (couscous, kalamata, sultanas, onion, tomato, parsley).

3. Roasted Peach with Blue Cheese, Sweet Balsamic Syrup and Dolcessa Gelato (nixed the bleu cheese).

I was at the Meadowlark here in Dayton. Let me review for you. First course was good. Light and refreshing, though I feel the shrimp was not that good, but I always feel like that about shrimp. Seconds... the swordish was amazing! The couscous, was couscous. Well done, but not special. The fish was special though. Dessert was great. The peach was warm and I either got a balsamic reduction (probable) or a high quality balsamic. The flavor of it said to me that it was a reduction, and sweetened at that. The gelato tasted cream cheesy. I dont know what flavor it was supposed to be but it was def buttermilk or cream cheese or something of that nature.

I have never been to Meadowlark before, and I fear I did not experience the height of what the restaurant can offer. They were busy (on a one hour wait if you didnt call ahead... I did). The host who I spoke to on the phone and when I arrived was very kind and personable, probably the best part of the experience. I felt sort of rushed through the whole experience. I suppose for the onslaught of people they were experiencing, the restaurant fared very well. No overt mistakes were made, save one. They delivered my check to me before I had even received dessert. Way to P*** me off. Are you kidding me? I would consider this place somewhere in the upper band of Dayton dining, and you are acting like a Perkins or a Waffle House and not waiting until I am through with my meal? I mean really. THAT was why I felt rushed. You should let a diner FINISH their meal before you make them pay. Maybe the rules are different considering the time. I dont know. One piece of advice: wait until the end of the meal until bill is delivered please.

I might return to Meadowlark again. On a muchmuch slower night.

Where should I go next? Restaraunt week menus.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vegetarian soft rolls with peanut sauce.

Napa, red pepper, scallions, basil, mint, cilantro, cucumber, wakame, avocado.
Peanuts, shoyu, fish sauce, sesame oil, water, onion.
Rolling tutorial here!