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Category: Spring

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!

Herb & Citrus Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Herb & Citrus Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Legend has it Kabab was invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. But mostly likely cooking pieces of meat over a flame has been around since humans began cooking with fire.

There are cultural variations to skewered food around the world: En Brochette as in the French technique, Satay of Malaysian or Indonesian origin , Souvlaki of Greece, Yakitori of Japan (which literally means “burnt chicken”),  Espetada of Portugal and my personal favorite Shish Kabab from Iran and surrounding Middle East countries- just to name a few.

It is a simple and practical way to cook and I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. You can either grill these over fire or bake in the oven. Either way you end up with a tasty and juicy chicken. Drizzle it with my mint-basil sauce and you have a flavor explosion to boot!

 

Panko-Crusted Dijon Cod & Fragrant Mediterranean Salad

Panko-Crusted Dijon Cod & Fragrant Mediterranean Salad

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many delightful meals with my friend, Anjali. We both like beautiful and healthy food but never compromise flavor! So we teamed up for our next video to cook a delicious menu of panko crusted Dijon Cod fish and a fragrant Mediterranean salad with fresh herbs.

The fish is light and flaky with a tang of Dijon and cooks in a snap. The cucumber-tomato-feta salad is savory, fragrant and colorful.  Pair that with a chilled  Rose and fantastic company and you got yourself a fabulous meal!

 

Pico De Gallo Salsa Fresco

Pico De Gallo Salsa Fresco

Forget store-bought salsa and with a few simple steps make your own tasty Salsa Fresca!
In Spanish, pico de gallo literally means the “beek of the rooster.” An internet search led me to several colorful explanations for the etymology of the term, but mostly urban legends and no definitive answer. According to Wikipedia “in Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).” So there you go.

Now, let’s make some yummy flag sauce! This is a party favorite to be enjoyed as a dip with chips, and it ends up being great on tacos, nachos, burritos, grilled chicken… and so on.

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

Azi’s Red Cabbage Slaw with Honey-Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

This was the first time I made this and it ended up being great. I love using red cabbage for it’s beautiful color, slightly bitter and peppery flavor and many health benefit- Vitamin C, A, K and dietary fiber to name a few. It adds a nice crunch to the otherwise soft textured fish taco and marinated in a honey-lime-cumin vinaigrette it became a great addition to our fiesta!

In case you’re wondering, it’s called “Azi’s Slaw” because my beautiful sister Azadeh was a big help in the recipe testing of this dish. She has always been a dream sous chef, putting up with my colorful antics in the kitchen… Thanks, Sis!

 

 

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

Persian Stuffed Peppers (Dolmeh)

The term “Dolmeh” can be traced back thousands of years in the form of various stuffed vegetables and was popular all over ranging from the Middle East, to Central Asia, and surrounding areas. The vegetables stuffed could include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, and eggplant.  Stuffed grape and cabbage leaves were also part of this tradition and can be traced back even further in culinary history. One explanation for etymology of the word dolmeh is from the Turkish verbal noun  dolmak,  which means “to be stuffed.” Makes sense.

In the Persian Empire, references of dolmeh are traced back to the 17th century and the courts of the Shah (king). According to Wikipedia, Alī-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāšī,  chef to the court of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, recorded dolmeh as a special category of Persian cuisine and gave recipes for stuffing grape leaves, cabbage leaves, cucumbers, eggplants, apples, and quinces.

My beloved late Grandmother made dolmeh combining green stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves in a large pot. She used tomato sauce and the end result was delicious! This is a picture of the dolmeh she made for us when my mom and I visited her in 2009. Those beautiful hands made many lovely dishes for us on that trip. And they all had the common ingredient of love incorporated. Many of my cooking inspirations are connected to that trip. Since my family immigrated from Iran when I was a child, this was the only time I cooked with her as an adult and I cherished every moment.

It seems the popularity and timelessness of this dish, is due to it’s simplicity. Stuff any vegetable with other vegetables, herbs and/or meat and you have a rich dish that satiates any palette.

I made my version of dolmeh for Nowruz (the Persian New Year) and they were a hit! The only dish with no leftovers and that says a lot for any meal in an Iranian home where abundance is the key ingredient to any feast.

It is a relatively easy recipe and quite healthy. You can make it meat-less by eliminating the ground turkey or chicken for a vegetarian option, nothing will be lost. The fresh herbs add such great flavor and aroma! Serve it up as a main or side dish and enjoy!

 

 

Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice Without a rice cooker

Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice Without a rice cooker

Thanks everyone for the feedback on this recipe! Many of you asked for instructions on how to make it without a rice cooker. We gave it a go and the results were equally wonderful- and we ended up with a bit of delicious tahdig (crunchy bottom) to boot!

The recipe utilizes the same ingredients as the rice cooker version. Here, I used a nonstick standard pot.  Instructions are below. Feel free to share your results and happy cooking!

 

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Persian Cucumber Salad with Red Onion & Thai Basil

Persian Cucumber Salad with Red Onion & Thai Basil

This salad is light n’ lovely. It’s aromatic and refreshing. It’s also a great choice when you need lots of flavor but don’t have a lot of time. I use Persian cucumbers because the fresh and fragrant taste is  an important part of the success of this dish. The basil’s slightly sweet, lemony and minty aroma delightfully compliments the green and fruity fragrance of the cucumber.

If you don’t have Thai basil, sweet basil works great too.

 

 

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Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice with Basil, Mint, Chive + Rosemary (and an unexpected virtual trip home)

Green Garden Herb Basmati Rice with Basil, Mint, Chive + Rosemary (and an unexpected virtual trip home)

Rice is the ultimate comfort food. It has been farmed by people for over 10,000 years.

In the Hindi language “Bas” means “aroma” and “Mati” means “full of.” Growing up in a Persian family, that beautifully fragrant and earthy aroma  is part of the essential scents of home. The cue of happiness and an eternal symbol of family dinners, celebrations and tradition.

Cooking traditional Persian rice (with tahdig of course) is truly an art form. For how to create such a saffron scented masterpiece check out Persian Mama’s great recipe here. For a simpler and quicker recipe, I use a rice cooker. Not all rice cookers can deliver the crunchy and golden bottom of the pot goodness. Generally the Pars Brand rice cookers do the trick.

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In this rendition, I highlight herbs in the garden using basil, mint, chive and rosemary for an aromatic rice dish guaranteed to feed the soul (nousheh jan...). I was recently in Philadelphia and ate at one of the best restaurants on the scene in recent years: Zahav. Here Chef Michael Solomonov beautifully highlights modern Israeli cuisine. I was greatly inspired by his vision, the story behind his culinary ventures and the flavors of the amazing meal we had that October eve in the city of brotherly love. The Zahav menu excited my senses and my palate was dancing, curiously processing the familiar and the new. As you looked around, most diners had a sense of exploration, discovering the colorful melody of flavors and layers in each dish. Simple, humble and deep flavor that payed homage to the chef’s roots and to the beautiful simplicity of the pleasures we can receive from the fruit of the earth.

For me personally, what resonated the most in this culinary adventure were the familiar flavors of home in the smoky eggplant, the coriander, the homemade bread, the grilled meats and the pomegranate. But most notably-  in the herbed basmati rice. The Al’Haesh dishes (grilled over coals) are served with a side of the basmati rice that was not only delicious, but momentarily took me home. This humble side dish became the center of what all the other plates harmoniously danced around. This beautiful little pot of rice had the power to transform me to another place and time. To the familiar places where we feel safe, comforted and loved. To where I remember being happy. To the quite corners of memory,  to our mother’s cooking and the taste of my grandmother’s love in an old kitchen in Isfahan.  Maya Angelou  says “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” I found myself at home in this beautiful experience, and I hope you do too by trying my basmati rice recipe.

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Ingredients:
3 cups uncooked basmati rice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large white onion
1 1/2 cups chopped chives
5 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 cup chopped cilantro
1-2  tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/ 1/2-2 teaspoons black pepper (adjust to taste)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (adjust to taste)

Directions:
Wash and drain rice.
Place rice in rice cooker. Cover with approx 1 inch of water above rice.
Add olive oil, onion, basil, mint, chives, cilantro, rosemary and salt + pepper.
Mix and turn on rice cooker. Continue to mix ingredients a couple of more times in the first 3-4 minutes if cooking so all ingredients are evenly spread throughout.
Let rice cooker do it’s magic!
Cook rice for approximately 1- 1 1/2 hours, or until the indicator lets you know the cooking is completed. A smaller rice cooker may only take around 45 minutes. The timing can vary depending on the size and model, but trust their settings. I’ve never had an issue.
Once cooking is finished, remove lid and place a plate on top of rice cooker bowl. Holding the sides with oven mitts, flip the golden rice cake with confidence!
Valiantly demonstrated by my cousin Payam, here:
If you don’t have a rice cooker, see here for instructions on how to cook in a regular pot.

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Musical Inspiration:

The Idan Raichel Project

http://idanraichelproject.com/en/