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.