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Gather

Gather

Hanukkah, Christmas, Festiuvs, Yaldaa or surviving 2017: No matter what we  just celebrated, we sent off last year with a bang and welcomed 2018.

New beginnings are a good time to press the wellness reset button, but healthy living can be a year-long lifestyle and need not be limited to new year resolutions. As we begin the year, I remind myself to set achievable goals, eat nutritious but delicious food, learn as much as possible, be kind to myself and others, let old wounds heal, practice gratitude, and make life as colorful as possible.

Last year was certainly colorful. 2017 tested me. But as I reflect on the last twelve months, I realize the positives outweighed the challenges and there was much to be grateful for. Mostly, the incredible people I have in my life and the extraordinary experiences we shared. Not surprisingly, many of those occurred around the table as we broke bread together, told our stories, laughed at our fortunes, waxed poetic about the future and perhaps even learned a bit about ourselves along the way. “Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind,” Einstein wrote, “life would have seemed to me empty.” Indeed.

I have written about gathering around the fire. Today, on a cold snowy day in NYC, I sip hot chai and reflect on the warm memories of last year. I smile remembering the gorgeous tables we gathered around, the delightful food we ate, and the marvelous people who’s company I had the pleasure to keep. Michael Polan says “the shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” It is also a place where our fondest memories live. Where we receive the gift of love by those who prepared those meals for us. It is where we are reminded of the power of coming together.

My memories of this gift begin in Naz year zero. My parents have always been extraordinary and generous hosts. Bringing people together and creating countless memories is an art form they have mastered a thousand times over. The loving energy created around their tables, is my eternal source of inspiration. I wrote more about that here.

In the meantime, I want to point out the only difference between the first two photos in this post are 37 years and geography. Otherwise, in both photos you see my beautiful Mother at the head of the table of her loving home, and me really excited about what we’re about to eat! Just a bit of role reversal in who’s serving whom.

Happy new year from Basil and Roses! Below are a few of our favorite “gatherings” of 2017 and the recipes they inspired.

Wishing you a colorful and meaning year!

Naz

“Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” Epicurus

Pretty Pickled Onions

Roasted Cauliflower with The Evergreen Chimichurri Sauce

Beer & Basil Braised Brisket

Nani’s Classic Tomato, Onion & Feta Omelette (recipe coming in 2018)

Mama’s Mexican Fiesta (Fish Taco, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, Cabbage Slaw, Pico, Fresh Margaritas)

Tuscan Inspired Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Cannelini Beans

Persian Stuffed Peppers

Shirazi Salad (or Israeli Salad or Mediterranean chopped salad)

Sesame Crusted Baked Salmon

Cindy’s Fabulous Holiday Rib Roast (Recipe coming in 2018!)

Green Goddess Basmati Rice with Basil, Mint, Chive and an Unexpected Trip Home

Smoked Salmon & Creme Fraiche Canapes with Fresh Dill

Chickpea & Cauliflower Coconut Curry

 

Other Top 2017 Recipes to try:

Nani’s Healthy But Decadent Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Thai Basil Beef

Citrusy Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Panko-Crusted Dijon Cod

The Best Steak Of Your Life

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medly

Mint & Cannelini Bean Tuna Salad

Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Tahini Sauce

Baklava

Nani’s Decadent But Healthy Butternut Squash Soup

Nani’s Decadent But Healthy Butternut Squash Soup

Pumpkins are in season now and there is no fall flavor I like more than butternut squash. In Farsi they are called lazy pumpkin (kadoo tanbal), which I think is hilarious. Butternut is the perfect name for this tender, sweet and nutty flavor. I simply roast it in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s it and it’s divine! With this recipe, I take the indulgence one step further to make a rich and savory soup.

The key to the amazing flavor is roasting the squash with garlic, onion and a red bell pepper, then blending all together for a smooth and creamy texture. The result is a complex, rich and silky soup with substance. I made it for Thanksgiving last year and it was a huge hit. It is naturally back on the menu again this year. Try it for your Thanksgiving celebration or all winter long- I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Note- I serve the soup with homemade crostini and a garnish of fresh thyme.
For the corstini, simply sprinkle the bread of your choice with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Recipes serves around 6-8 people, double or triple ingredients for a crowd pleaser- I sure will be this upcoming holiday.

The first harvest of butternut squash in Malekan Gardens!
Chickpea & Cauliflower Coconut Curry

Chickpea & Cauliflower Coconut Curry

My latest curry craving almost had me ordering take out, but why do that when you can make fabulous vegetable curry in a snap at home? It is a great go-to dish when you want to impress someone, feed a crowd or just craving curry goodness.

Warning, this is a crazy addictive coconut curry! You can substitute vegetables and  proteins to your liking, but this combo is literally awesome sauce.

What is the magic ingredient? Store-bought curry paste. Most varieties have ingredients which you can only find at Asian Markets. Since most of us don’t have lemongrass, kaffir lime, and galangal laying around, this is a great way to achieve authentic flavors.

This recipe is healthy with the added indulgence of a creamy coconut sauce. The miracle of this decadence is that it is vegan and dairy free, despite its richness. It is one of my absolute favorite dishes to eat and just one of those perfect recipes that satisfies many a taste buds and preferences. 

It keeps well, so make a pot of it and you’ll have fabulous leftovers for a couple of lunches during the week.

 

 

Muffin Tin Egg Frittatas

Muffin Tin Egg Frittatas

These flavorful muffin tin frittatas are fun, easy to make and a good solution for quick make ahead breakfast. Make your weekdays easier by making a batch over the weekend. It’s also a great way to prepare eggs for a group.

There are countless filling options. I used tomato, basil, spinach & cheddar but you can incorporate your favorites. Note- this also a good way to utilize leftover salads and veggies. Get inspired by your favorite omelettes. Either way, the end result is simple & delicious!

Other combo ideas:
-Mushrooms, peppers, onions, cheddar
-Spinach, tomato, feta
-Asparagus and cheese
-Goat cheese, spinach and tomatoes
-Spinach and ricotta
-Chive, tomato and goat cheese
-Smoked mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, basil pesto
-Onion and mushroom
-Mushroom and sausage



 

Of course, you can never have enough egg recipes. For further inspiration check out our Scallion & Turmeric Mushroom Omelette , Elegant Egg Salad or Exquisite Hard Boiled Eggs

Spicy Thai Basil Beef

Spicy Thai Basil Beef

For the one year anniversary of the blog, I wanted to create a new recipe which was festive, simple, colorful and fun. It was a celebration after all. Earlier that week, I had discovered the amazing flavor combination of Serrano chili and garlic while cooking dinner with my friend Anjali in Brooklyn. We made a classic Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow) and I learned about the garlic/Serrano punch there.

That wonderful dinner in BK organically became the inspiration for the Basil & Roses anniversary recipe. We had lots of Basil and Rosé, toasted to a fun year of fabulous recipes and enjoyed a spicy meal followed by dancing and laughter. It was a good night.

This recipe uses Beef but you can use any protein you like- chicken or tofu work well. You can also adjust the heat level by either reducing the amount of chilies or removing seeds and veins from the peppers.

Pretty Pickled Onions

Pretty Pickled Onions

I experimented with quick pickling last memorial day and they were a hit!

Back in May, I made them as a condiment for the Ultimate Naz Burger. Since then, they’ve become a family staple. We use them on everything for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They work with countless dishes. They can be a nice addition to simple eggs, add a bright zing to any salad or sandwich, and their tangy goodness offers a balanced compliment to anything rich or sweet (i.e. roasted butternut squash or a creamy soup).

Besides, it takes about 10 minutes to make and the beautiful crimson jewel-toned color is gorgeous!

Full instructions are below, but you basically slice the onions and submerge in a bath of vinegar, sugar and salt. After some experimentation, I’ve come up with the perfect ratio of those elements. You don’t want the end result to be too sour, sweet or salty.

After you put everything together, refrigerate for 3-4 hours. But honestly, it starts tasting pretty darn good in about an hour. You can add aromatics like garlic, thyme and peppercorns if that tickles your fancy. But this simple 4 ingredient version will be hit without the extras.

 

 

Like the recipe? Feel free to share with us your rendition on our Basil and Roses Facebook page or @basilandroses on Instagram using the hashtag #PrettyPickledOnions 

Enjoy ya’all!

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

They say “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” 365 days ago, I took my first step and became a food blogger. It is hard to believe I am writing about the one year anniversary of Basil & Roses!  And  what an incredible year it has been. First and foremost, thank you to all the beautiful people whom have supported me. Without your love and enthusiasmthis journey would not have been the same.

As I reflect on the last year, I’m inspired by the meals I’ve shared with loved ones and humbled by the lessons I learned along the way. To be honest, I dragged my feet launching this site. I had experience cooking, but had never built a website, nor fully understood what a web hosting service was. Despite working endlessly on content, the perfectionist within me kept hesitating. I couldn’t fathom a launch unless the website was the best you had ever seen– an unreasonable expectation. And, a mistake.

Luckily I’m surrounded with wise friends and a life Sherpa who provide endless encouragement. So, I set a final deadline and just did it. I launched, with imperfections and all. It was better to roll the dice and move forward, instead of procrastinating and finding excuses to not take a risk. That was one of my biggest lessons. Don’t wait for the conditions to be perfect to begin anything. It is the act of beginning that actually makes it all perfect.

George Bernard Shaw says “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Basil and Roses is my platform of creation. It is through sharing my culinary journey with you that I have been able to grow, evolve and learn.

“Although this is only the beginning, and self-growth is a continuous, arduous process, for the first time in a long time I can say that I feel happy. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned that happiness is a kind of courage. Rumi says, “Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” Basil and Roses is my homage to cultivating that love.”

That is how I introduced myself to you one year ago. Those words mean as much today as they did then.

So join me and take a risk! Take many risks. Follow your passions, do everything you love. Throw fear out the door. Fall in love with basil. Dance without a care. Embrace what makes you smile and welcome new beginnings.

Or as Rumi tells us:

“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”

With love,
~ Notorious Naz

Attempting to conquer my fear of heights, Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park Maine

 

And by the way,

In honor of a year of delicious meals, celebrations, and gatherings –  I’ll be sharing with you my favorite entertaining recipes. Whether hosting an intimate gathering or a large soiree, these dishes are excellent for any celebration in the true Basil & Roses spirit of Breaking Bread Together In Style!

We’ll start with my Spicy Thai Basil Beef. A simple stir fry served with fluffy rice. Make if for a cozy dinner for 4, or double/triple the recipe for a bigger dinner party with friends!

Nani’s Vitamin Soup

Nani’s Vitamin Soup

Fall has begun in New York and soup season is here! I love soup. It can be comforting, delicious and nutritious. And like many other popular dishes that exist in multiple cultures, soup has several origin stories. Among the most popular is the suggestion the word “soup” can be traced back to the sixth-century Latin word “suppa,” meaning a piece of bread eaten in broth. We’ll go with that.

There are endless creative ingredient combinations for a delicious soup. Here I share with you a recipe I made for my family last week when we all came down with a pesky cold. I call it Vitamin Soup! It’s rich tapestry of vegetables, herbs and spices is guaranteed to boost the immune system while providing a delicious and satisfying meal.

I strongly believe this is how we should take our vitamins. In my opinion, the health and wellness section of the supermarket is the produce section. The name vitamin soup is a fun play on words and it doesn’t just need to be limited to when we’re sick. A balanced and vegetable-rich diet complimented with healthy fats, savory spices and fresh herbs not only does a body good- but it is the best way to enjoy the fruit of the earth and maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.

This is also a good way to use leftovers in the fridge. For example, I had a bit of rice and quinoa leftover that I just threw in there.

Customize with your favorite veggies + herbs and enjoy!

 

Lavender & Mint Infused Iced Tea

Lavender & Mint Infused Iced Tea

Both Lavender and Mint are wonderfully  fragrant on their own. Combined, that heavenly fragrance is even better! Both grow in full abundance this time of year and I like to get creative with how to use these prolific herbs. I recently created “floral” arrangements with these beauties and they were magnificent.

Lavender + Mint are also a great combo in iced tea. I like making big batches of it and keeping it chilled in the fridge for hot summer days. A refreshing, clean, and aromatic thirst-quenching delight!

Keep in mind, you need a small amount of lavender, you don’t want your beverage to taste like potpourri. You can adjust the amount of mint and lemon to your preference. Personally, I LOVE mint and lemon so I don’t hold back- but experiment and find the balance you enjoy best.

Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Tahini Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Tahini Sauce

Cauliflower is a wonderful ingredient to cook with. This cruciferous vegetable has a mildly earthy and nutty flavor. It’s easy to cook, a nice source of vitamin C and quiet filling as vegetables go.

I try to incorporate vegetables in most meals, but once a week I like to highlight them in my Meatless Mondays. It is a simple way to not only diversify the week’s meals, but also experiment with whatever seasonal vegetables tickle your fancy at the moment.

The are many ways to cook with cauliflower. Simply roasting with olive oil, salt + pepper will result in a nice gold brown texture which enhances the nutty flavors. Combined with the sweetness from the caramelized onions and the tangy tahini sauce- you have yourself a flavor explosion made from a few simple ingredients.

 

Check out this page  for the Tangy Tahini Sauce Recipe.