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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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Tuscan Inspired Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Cannellini Beans & Roasted Squash-Arugula Salad

Tuscan Inspired Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Cannellini Beans & Roasted Squash-Arugula Salad

There’s something so fulfilling about roasted chicken and this sense of satisfaction is universal. The warm aromas that fill the kitchen while it cooks are comforting and feel like home. I love the different ways you can roast chicken with endless herbs and veggies- somehow lemon and rosemary end up on the rotation more often than others. There is something magical about how this combination marries with garlic and olive oil. You can develop deep flavors in this  simple recipe. The cannellini beans are creamy and filling and beautifully absorb the rosemary, garlic + lemon. The kitchen will smell divine too.

Once the salad is made, serve with chicken and a nice glass of white wine. If you’re inspired by the rustic Tuscan flavors, try a nice Vermentino. Tuscany is known mainly for it’s red wines but there are lovely whites as well from the coastal regions of Tuscany known as “La Costa Toscana!” Just the name is divine! (forgive me, I’m taking Italian lessons and I’m in love with the language). According to Zester Daily, “Vermentino should have an appealing sapidità, a difficult word to translate into English — “sapidity”. Essentially it should leave you wanting another taste, or indeed another glass.”                  No arm twisting required here…

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Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken with Cannellini Beans

 

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Roasted Squash-Arugula Salad

 

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Musical Inspiration:

Andrea Bocelli, Melodramma (Vivere Live in Tuscany)

 

Beer + Basil Braised Brisket

Beer + Basil Braised Brisket

Brisket is one of my favorite dishes to cook for my family. It’s warming and satisfying and one of those meals that’s wonderful to share. As we bunker down for the cold days of winter in NY, it’s the perfect hearty meal for a family dinner or for entertaining during the holidays.

There are many flavor combinations you can use for the braising liquid and aromatics. In this recipe I combined beer an basil and it was fabulous!

Tonight’s menu also included Rosemary Sea-Salt Baked Potato Chips and a Cucumber-Onion Salad with Thai Basil. Meat and potatoes are always a good compliment and the lightness of the cucumber salad is a nice contrast to the richness of the meat and potatoes. The Thai bail echos the sweet basil from brisket and it all comes together nicely.

 

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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 and 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, to his fallen brother 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/

 

 

Rosemary Skewered Chicken

Rosemary Skewered Chicken

This recipe is simply delicious, healthy and fun to make!

The rosemary stems replace regular skewers for a beautiful presentation while adding another layer of flavor. Just add chicken and veggies to the skewers, bake and voila! A healthy meal awaits.

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Remembering Rosemary

Remembering Rosemary

Ahhh Rosemary… One of my favorite herbs. “Rosemary” is derived from Latin words “ros” and “marinus”, which mean “dew of the sea” or “mist of the sea”. It refers to the coastal region that is occupied by this plant in it’s wild form.  As the days get shorter and the warm temperatures dwindle in early fall, the Rosemary in the garden is still going strong and one of the last herbs to continue giving to my garden. My inner poet can’t help but consider it the most royal of the garden, growing and giving until the very end. Perhaps this is why Rosemary is a symbol of loyalty and love. In certain parts of the world, bride, groom and their guests wear branches of rosemary during wedding ceremonies. During the English Tudor era, Rosemary symbolized fidelity, and brides would give sprigs of Rosemary to bridegroom as a tradition.

The history of Rosemary is fascinating and for centuries it was used to enhance memory. Recent studies suggest rosemary may sharpen memory and brain function and suggest it’s use for Alzheimer’s patients. Shakespeare may have agreed. In “Hamlet,” Ophelia waxes poetic about rosemary as she descends into madness. There’s Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” It’s also believed ancient Greeks wore rosemary in their hair to fortify their memory. The association between rosemary and memory has persisted throughout history. Personally, I love the the poetic history of the mist of the sea.  Sir Thomas More wrote: “I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and therefore to friendship.”

For the last harvest of our historical herb, I wanted to celebrate this beautiful woodsy herb with the bittersweet nutty flavor and create a menu that highlights it’s fabulous fragrance!

Coming soon:

Rosemary skewered chicken

Green Garden Herb  basmati rice with mint, chive + Rosemary

Orange blossom Rosemary Gin Cocktail

Chopped kale salad with tomato, avocado, onion and lemon

Rosemary infused olive oil

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My Little Scarborough Fair

My Little Scarborough Fair

Many of the dishes and cocktails of the summer are inspired by what’s in bloom in my herb garden. Once upon a time my Father built a beautiful bed with nutrient rich soil to plant herbs + veggies in. I’ve continued that tradition and every spring I plant the staples; parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… and mint and cilantro and chives and sweet basil. These aromatic but humble herbs elevate pretty much every breakfast, lunch and dinner compilation.

They’re easy to grow. I buy the spriglings in Home Depot and just add water and sunlight. There is something very satisfying in always having these items available to enhance the flavors of any meal. If you don’t have a garden, you can use planters and any window with sunlight will do!

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;

Remember me to the one who lives there,

For once she was a true love of mine

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