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Persian Rice Spice translates to, ‘advieh berenj.’ This advieh is a blend of five warm spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, and dried rose petals. This spice blend adds a unique depth of flavor to the steamed white rice to create the Aromatic Rice that I serve with my Khoresh Gheymeh. This spice is not exclusively used for rice, I use it in several other recipes. Some dishes that you might want to try are: Kuku Bademjan, KuKu Sabzi, and Tahchin.  You will be able to find most of these spices in their ground form at Middle Eastern or Indian spice shops. I usually use a small coffee grinder to grind my own cardamom pods, whole; there is no need to remove the outer skin as some recipes imply.

Cardamom “hel” is a ½ x ¼ inch spindle shaped pod, that is papery green or brown on the outside. There are small black seeds inside each pod. This aromatic spice is used in its powder form in many pastries and also in the Persian rice spice; 10 pods yield about 1 ½ tsp of ground cardamom. To make cardamom tea, add 4-5 whole pods to the tea pot along with the black tea leaves and brew as usual. Cardamom has antiseptic properties that when chewed promotes fresh breath. It is worth mentioning that there is also a black cardamom, or Indian cardamom, that is significantly larger than the green or brown cardamom and measures about 1 ½ x ½ inches. The black cardamom has a somewhat smoky flavor with much larger seeds and is used in savory dishes. A couple of these pods will be enough to add a wonderful flavor to steamed cumin rice and some sauces; remember to discard the pod when serving the dish.

Cinnamon “darchin” is a universal spice that is used in the ground form in a lot of Persian sweets and many savory recipes.  It is one of the ingredients in the Persian rice spice. The cinnamon bark is brewed with Persian tea to make the cinnamon tea.  Add a few cinnamon barks to your hot cider and enjoy the taste and aroma. It is believed that cinnamon is an antioxidant that improves insulin sensitivity and also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides.  So go ahead and sprinkle it on your favorite breakfast cereal, ice cream, rice pudding or even on your buttered toast.

Cumin “zireh” is used as whole seeds, and in powder form, in different cuisines such as Persian, Indian, Northern African and Latin American. Toasting the seeds on low heat enhances the flavor.  I find this spice to be incredibly exotic; it has a very distinctive warm, smoky spicy flavor; it is not hot though.  Cumin adds a unique flavor to any specific recipe, whether it is in rice, chilies, dips, or hummus.  In its powder form cumin is one of the main ingredients in the Persian rice spice, yet the whole seed does wonders for the cumin rice when combined with the black cardamom pod.  It is also used in pickled vegetables torshi.

Nutmeg “joz é hendi, or joz e booia” is another universally known and loved warm spice with an almost sweet flavor, that is used in sweet and savory dishes. Nutmeg is best used in small amounts to add just the right flavor to a recipe. The dried whole nutmeg can be up to an inch in length; it is a hard, oval shaped dark brown/gray seed with somewhat rough exterior. This spice may be grated with fine graters at home, but it is also sold in spice shops in its powder form. Nutmeg is used in eggnog, and it adds a very nice flavor to bechamel sauce.

Rose Petals ‘gol é sorkh’: The rose that is used in Persian cooking is from a species of the wild rose (Damask rose, or Gol Mohammadi) that grows only in certain areas of Iran.  The other species of the rose family are not used for culinary purposes in Iran.  Rose is harvested in the spring and is sold fresh for a short while in the spice bazaar; it is used to make rose jam and it tastes amazing.  Later in the season you can only find the dried rose to purchase. The dried rose petals are ground into powder and used as a spice.  It is added to savory dishes such as Dolmeh Barg,  to add a delicate fragrant flavor. It also creates a beautiful color contrast when sprinkled sparingly over desserts and pastries.

The Persian rice spice is a valuable addition to your collection of spices, and you will enjoy the versatility of this blend. The dried rose petals add a very unique fragrance to this blend and you may purchase them in most Persian and Middle Eastern markets as dried buds, petals, or in powder form. If you have a hard time finding it, go ahead and make this blend without it; you will still love how wonderful this rice spice is. I have tested this by making my Aromatic Rice using a mixture without the dried rose petals and it turns out very tasty and fragrant.

PERSIAN RICE SPICE | ADVIEH BERENJ
 
Yield: About ¾ cup
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Spices
Cuisine: Persian
Ingredients
  • 6 TBSP powdered rose petals, available in Persian markets (may leave out if unable to find in your area)
  • 4 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
Instructions
  1. Mix all the spices in a small bowl, use a whisk to blend well. Place in a small airtight jar and store in the refrigerator.
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This is Pistachio and Apricot jam cookie, or as we call in Iran, “Shirini Morabaii,” which translates to jam cookies! These are butter cookies that are lightly scented with rosewater and vanilla; filled with sweet tart apricot jam and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. This shirini is as delicate as it looks; you will want to devour it in one bite, or show self control and take two bites. It melts in the mouth with a mild sweetness that is delightfully complemented with the sweet tart apricot jam in the center.


Shirini refers to any kind of pastry or sweets in Farsi! It could be Shirini Napoleoni – puff pastry layered with homemade pastry cream. It could be Rollet – A thin and moist layer of cake, filled and rolled with rosewater and vanilla-scented whipped cream. Shirini Latifeh and Ghorabieh are Tabriz specialties; one a feather-light pastry filled with rosewater-scented whipped cream, and the other is a type of almond macaroon cookie that is crispy and chewy at the same time. And one must not forget the Iranian childhood favorite cookie, Shirini Keshmeshi which is a soft vanilla-scented raisin cookie, sparsely dotted with plump raisins.
All of these pastries are popular during the festivities related to traditional ceremonies such as, Nowruz (also spelled Norooz), weddings, birthday parties, and so on. I dare say, Iranians have a sweet tooth, but they are also very selective about their pastries! You see, when I was growing up in Tabriz, Iran, we had some of the best bakeries in my hometown. None of them used margarine; there was no ‘artificial vanilla flavoring,’ and the bakers knew better than to cut cost by skimping on good ingredients! All of this was the right formula for creating some of the most amazing pastries and cookies, and this shirini meets those standards and then some!

The dough for this Shirini Morabaii is made with butter and is soft enough to be piped. In the past, I have used my cookie press to make the same cookie in different shapes. If you decide to use your cookie press, avoid using the disks that dispense dough smaller than 1 1/2-inches; there should be enough surface to hold the jam. The apricot preserves is added in the center of dough before baking. Any fruit preserves would work for this shirini, but it should be blended until smooth. I don’t recommend using jams or jellies that are already smooth and soft; they tend to get baked into the cookie and are not as attractive.
The following pictures are to illustrate some highlights; please read the printable recipe before baking these cookies:

Preheat your oven to 350 F, center rack (you will be baking one sheet at at time). Get all the ingredients ready before you start. Bring butter and egg yolks to room temperature by leaving them on the counter, for at least 30 minutes. Finely chop 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios by hand or a food processor (use pulse action a few times so you don’t end up with powder). Blend the apricot jam in a food processor until smooth, without any fruit pieces.

Lightly grease two large cookie sheets, by rubbing a cold piece of butter on the entire surface. Fit a 10 or 12-inch pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip (Wilton 1M). Use a 1/4 teaspoon measure for the jam (I used a popsicle stick to scrape the jam out).
Beat the softened butter until very smooth, add sugar and beat for 2 minutes on medium high. Scrape the sides down and add the egg yolks, vanilla powder, and rosewater. Beat until blended, then add the sifted flour and salt mixture. First beat on low until the flour is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat only until you have a smooth dough. Do not over beat. Fill the pastry bag halfway with the dough; pack it evenly as much as you can.

Gently push the dough inside the bag towards the tip, to release any air pocket (‘burp’ the bag) before you start to pipe. Now twist the top to compact the dough further. I recommend practice piping couple of rosettes on a plate or parchment paper; this will eliminate the air pockets and it will also let you see if you’re pleased with the shape of your piped dough. Put the piped dough back in the bowl and proceed with piping. To pipe a rosette: Gently squeeze the bag close to the twisted top, pipe out a basic star, then continue pressing and piping out a complete 1 ½ inch circle, that begins at the center of the star and ends at the same point. If you don’t like the look of your rosette, gently remove it and put it back in the dough and continue piping. This might take some practice if you’re new at this, but keep in mind that no matter how the cookies look, they’re going to taste amazing. Continue piping the rosettes with 1 to 1 1/2 inch space between them; this dough increases in size when it bakes. Just to give you an idea, the  1 1/2 inch piped dough will bake into a 2 1/4 inch cookie. Pipe enough rosettes to fill one baking sheet (about 25 or 30)

As you see in the above picture, you will touch the dough with one finger, dip it in chopped pistachios, press the center of the rosette with your finger, sprinkle more pistachio on top, then fill the cookie with the apricot jam. I find it easier and more efficient to do each of these steps for all the rosettes and then proceed with the next step.
Place the first baking sheet on the center rack of a preheated 350 F oven. Depending on the size of your cookies and your oven, these cookies will bake in 10-14 minutes (start piping out and preparing the dough for the second baking sheet. Look for the edges to turn light golden brown. Remove the cookies and let them rest for 2 minutes,  then use a flexible thin spatula to transfer one cookie to a cooling rack and check the bottom; if not golden brown, return the baking sheet back in the oven and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Watch closely, as they burn very quickly at this point.

Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container with a parchment paper between each layer. These cookies keep well covered over the counter for 3-4 days. They also freeze very well for about 2 months. I hope you will enjoy these cookies for this upcoming Nowruz, and for all of your happy occasions. As much as I adore coffee, these cookies pair exceptionally well with a glass of fresh brewed Persian black tea. Happy Nowruz and a prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones. Nowruz Mobarak!!
5.0 from 2 reviews
SHIRINI MORABAII
 
Baking time: 10-14 minutes each batch
Temperature: 350 F, center rack
Yields: 4 dozens+ cookies
You will need: 2 large baking sheets (12 x 17 inches). A 10 or 12-inch piping bag, fitted with a ½-inch star tip (Wilton 1M).
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Cookies/Desserts/Pastries
Cuisine: Persian
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 1 cup (8 ounces, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • ⅓ tsp vanilla powder, or 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp rose water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Filling and topping:
  • ¼ cup unsalted pistachios
  • ½ cup apricot preserves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, center rack.
  2. Prepare and set aside: Leave the butter and egg yolks on the counter for at least 30 minutes (covered)* Sift the flour with salt* Finely chop the pistachios* Blend the apricot preserves until smooth and without any fruit pieces.
  3. Lightly grease two large baking sheets by rubbing a cold piece of butter on the entire surface. you will be baking one baking sheet at a time.
  4. Add one cup softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer (or use your hand mixer). Using a paddle attachment beat the softened butter on medium speed (#6 on KitchenAid) until smooth. If the butter is soft enough this should take less than 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Add ½ cup sugar and beat on low speed until blended, then beat on medium high for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolks, rosewater, vanilla powder (or vanilla extract) and beat until blended.
  6. Add the sifted flour/salt mixture; beat on low speed until incorporated, then beat on medium until you have a smooth dough. Do not overbeat!
  7. Fill the prepared pastry bag halfway with the dough; gently press the dough and move it towards the tip to release any air pockets (‘burp’ the bag). Twist the opening of the pastry bag and pipe couple of practice rosettes on a plate; this eliminates the air pockets and gives you an idea about the shape and size of your piped rosette. Return the practice rosettes to the bowl of batter.
  8. To pipe rosettes: With gentle pressure at the top of the pastry bag pipe out a simple star, then continue squeezing and piping out a complete 1½-inch circle that ends at the center of the star. Leave 1 to 1 ½-inch space between each rosette and pipe as many as you can fit on one baking sheet (about 25-30).
  9. Prepare the rosettes for baking: Touch the dough with one finger, dip it in the chopped pistachio and press it in the center of the rosette, continue dipping your finger in the pistachio every time you make an indentation in the rest of the rosettes. Next, sprinkle extra pistachios on top. Then add ¼ teaspoonful of apricot jam in the center of each rosette. I find it’s more efficient to do each of these steps on all of the rosettes, before moving on to the next step.
  10. When you're done with adding the jam in the center of the dough, place the cookie sheet on the center rack and bake for 10-14 minutes. Start piping the rosettes for the second cookie sheet. The bake time is going to depend on your oven and the size of your cookies. Look for the edges to turn a light golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  11. Use a flexible thin spatula to transfer one of the cookies to a cooling rack. If the bottom is also a light golden brown, transfer all of the cookies to the baking rack. If the bottom is still pale, return the baking sheet back to the oven and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Watch them closely; they burn quickly at this point.
  12. Enjoy these delicate buttery Shirini Morabaii on your special occasions with a glass of fresh brewed Persian black tea.
Notes
To freeze Shirini Morabaii: These cookies freeze very well for up to 2 months in an airtight container. Line the container with a large cling wrap and allow several inches of extra wrap to hang on the sides. Arrange the cookies in a single layer, then line with parchment paper and continue layering until done. Cover the top of the cookies with parchment paper. Fold the sides of the cling wrap over the parchment paper securely; close the lid and freeze.
This recipe has been adapted from here.
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This Quick Crusty Bread is everything that you would want in a homemade bread! The golden brown crust is delicious and crispy, and the crumbs are light and airy. Best of all, there is no kneading, and no need for a mixer! Four simple ingredients are briefly combined and left alone over the counter top to mingle for several hours, or overnight, to create a beautiful dough that does not need too much handling! I have previously posted another bread recipe for a very popular Persian flat bread, called Barbari, which is also made with very similar ingredients. Both these breads, though made with very different techniques, and with origins thousands of miles apart, have a very sticky dough and bake with a crispy crust and light porous crumbs.

Bread is an essential part of most non-khoresh (Persian stews over rice) dishes at my house. If you love bread as much as I do, this Quick Crusty Bread recipe is going to become a complementary side for many dishes such as soups, or stews! Whenever you crave some crusty bread to dip in your favorite olive oil on a family lasagna night, or when you want to pile spoonfuls of borani esfenaj on chunks of freshly baked bread for an evening get together, this simple bread with soft texture will come in very handy.

The dough is put together in matter of minutes, then it rests at room temperature for 12-18 hours to rise. I usually make the dough the night before, and it’s ready to be baked the next afternoon in time for dinner; if you want it for breakfast, simply make the dough in the early afternoon. The proofed dough is baked for 30 minutes with high heat in a preheated, covered small Dutch oven. The steam builds up within the thick walls of the pot, and the crust rises and creates a beautiful high dome on this round bread. At this point the crust is crispy but pale, so to achieve the beautiful golden brown color and the light textured crumbs, the bread is baked for an additional 12-18 minutes, without the lid.

I have not met anyone who doesn’t love fresh homemade bread. The heavenly aroma of bread baking in the oven is incredibly inviting and nostalgic. It brings back warm memories of childhood, of easier and more carefree times. There is nothing more comforting or satisfying than to take a beautifully baked bread out of the oven, wait impatiently for it to cool enough not to burn my hand, and then tearing a chunk off to try! A true taste test with this kind of crusty bread is to spread a bit of  fresh butter while it’s still warm, watch the butter melt, as you bite into it. The beauty of this Quick Crusty Bread is that, you can be sure that it’s going to be perfect every time without any surprises. I have made this bread several times in the past few weeks and have made some minor changes to the original recipe, and have loved it a little more every time.
The following pictures illustrate some highlights; please follow the printable recipe for the details:

 The correct measuring technique: {Use a spoon to fill the measuring cup with flour and then level it off with a knife. Avoid dipping the cup in the flour, as this method adds around 1 extra ounce per cup to your measurements, and this will result in a very dense bread; the picture on the left shows the scoop with the excess flour that is measured with the dipping method}. Use a whisk to combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the water and mix with a heavy spoon, to combine well.

Do not over mix; you only want a sticky dough with no visible dry flour. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let it rest at room temperature on the kitchen counter for 12-18 hours. The dough should be well risen with visible air pockets on the surface. Place the covered Dutch oven on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

 Use mittens to remove the heated pot from the oven, remove the lid, and sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour in the bottom of the of the pot. Flour the palm of your hands and sprinkle little flour on top of the risen dough, to keep it from sticking to your fingers. Use your fingertips to gather the risen dough into a ball and gently drop it in the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and return it back to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, and as you observe in the picture, the crust has expanded beautifully with a pale golden color, but not quite ready. Continue baking the bread for an additional 12-18 minutes, without the lid until the color is a a nice golden brown like the picture below.


Remove the Quick Crusty Bread from the pot. The crust is a delicious golden brown and the bread is light to touch and hollow sounding. Use a pastry brush to dust off the excess flour from the bottom of the loaf. To achieve the best crumb texture, allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, or maybe even longer, if you’re able to resist the temptation!! I have to admit, we love the taste of hot bread and sometimes it’s not possible to wait for it to cool completely. You could loosely drape a thin towel over the bread during this cooling period. If you have any bread left at this point, store it in a plastic bag. The crust looses its crispiness once it’s stored in the bag, but you can easily toast it briefly to make it crispy again.  So make this bread, fill your kitchen with its heavenly aroma & Enjoy!! I would love for you to make a comment and let me know what you think! Happy Baking my friends.
This recipe has been adapted from here
 

QUICK CRUSTY BREAD
 
Yields: One 8-inch round loaf
Preheated 450 F oven
Prep time: 5 min
Rest time for dough: 12-18 hrs
Bake time: 42-48 min
You will need a 3/12-4 Quart size Dutch oven, or a similar heavy pot with a secure lid
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Bread
Ingredients
  • 3 cups bread flour, plus 2 TBSP to dust the bottom of the pot, and your hands (I use Gold Medal brand)
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups water, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine well with a whisk.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the water. Use a heavy spoon to stir and mix the ingredients only for a few minutes. Stop stirring when you have a very sticky dough, without any trace of dry flour. Do not over mix.
  3. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and leave it on the kitchen counter for 12-18 hours at room temperature. At the end of this time the dough will be well risen and very sticky.
  4. Cover the small Dutch oven with the lid and place it on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 450 F.
  5. Using mittens transfer the heated Dutch oven to a heatproof surface and remove the lid.
  6. Flour the palms of your hands and sprinkle a little flour on top of the risen dough. Use your floured fingertips to pull the dough away from the sides and bottom of the bowl, and roughly form it into a ball, then gently drop it in the preheated pot.
  7. Cover the pot and return it back to the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the lid and continue baking the bread for another 12-18 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  9. Remove the bread from the pot and use a pastry brush to dust off the excess flour from the bottom of the bread. At this point the bread sounds hollow and is very light.
  10. Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes or longer for the best texture.
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German Pancake, also known as ‘Dutch Baby,’ is a puffed up pancake that is crispy on the outside, soft and dreamy inside; a real treat for breakfast, brunch, or even a late afternoon teatime dessert, or as us Iranians call it, “asrooneh.” My memory of this pancake goes back to many years ago when I first moved to the States. There was a little coffee shop off campus, which served a large selection of pancakes, anytime of the day or night! Their German pancake was my favorite. Unlike the other pancakes which were served with warm maple syrup, or other fruit syrups, this one was served with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

I still remember the sweet anticipation while my friends and I sat at our table, sipped our coffee, talked about everything, and waited for their amazing German Pancake!

The pancake was served hot from the oven, in the same skillet that it was baked in. The server dusted the top generously with confectioner’s sugar and squeezed some fresh lemon juice on it. The crispy pancake was then folded, just until the two sides touched in the middle; next came another sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon!

This German pancake serves two and it may be served in the skillet for a casual breakfast. Also, it easily releases from a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, to be served on a platter. A variation of topping for this pancake is a  drizzle of warm maple syrup, instead of the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice; it is also delicious with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

The following pictures are to illustrate some highlights; please follow the printable recipe for the complete details.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bring the ingredients to room temperature by leaving them out for 15-20 minutes.

The German pancake is quick to prepare and a breeze to bake! No extraordinary skills are required to make it puff up so perfectly; there are no tricks to create its beautiful golden brown color. It simply looks amazing and it tastes exceptional using a few basic ingredients (eggs, flour, milk, one tablespoons of sugar, and a small amount of salt, vanilla, and nutmeg), a blender, a cast iron skillet, and a preheated oven. I always break the eggs into a bowl to avoid any shells in the batter. Add all of the batter ingredients, with the exception of butter, to the blender, and blend until the batter is smooth without any flour lumps. Stop once and scrape the sides, then continue blending until light and foamy.

Add the cubed unsalted butter to the skillet and place it in the preheated oven on the middle rack, just until the butter melts. Remove the skillet from the oven, add the prepared batter to the melted butter and place the skillet back in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pancake puffs up to a rich golden brown around the edges and light golden brown in the center. Reduce the temperature to 300 F without opening the oven door and continue baking for another 3-5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven. Slide a heat-proof spatula under the German pancake and along the sides to release it from the skillet. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top of the pancake. Fold the sides to meet in the center, and sprinkle with more sugar and fresh lemon juice. Serve hot with extra lemon slices and powdered sugar on the side. Please enjoy this recipe and make a comment to let me know what you think. Cheers dear friends!

4.8 from 4 reviews
GERMAN PANCAKE
 
Serves 2
Active prep time: 3 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Best if ingredients are at room temperature
Preheated oven 425 F, center rack
You will need a 10-inch cast iron, or another heavy oven-proof skillet
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch/Dessert
Cuisine: German/Dutch
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for the batter:
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (break into a bowl)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk, room temperature (I've used 1% milk)
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of vanilla powder, or ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter (2 ounces = ¼ cup = ½ stick), cubed, room temperature
  • Suggestions for the pancake toppings:
  • A dusting of confectioner's (powdered) sugar & fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 to 1 fresh lemon)
  • Maple syrup
  • Fresh fruit & whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F, center rack
  2. Add all the batter ingredients, except butter, to a blender. Blend until smooth and without flour lumps. Stop once and scrape the sides and blend again until light and foamy.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons butter to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and place it in the oven.
  4. As soon as the butter melts, remove the skillet from the oven and pour the prepared batter in the skillet and place it back in the oven (don't stir)
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed up, rich golden brown around the edges and light golden brown in the center. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 300 and bake for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven; slide a heat-proof spatula under the pancake and along the sides to release it from the skillet.
  7. Sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice all over the pancake.
  8. Fold the two sides of the pancake to meet in the center. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and another generous squeeze of the lemon juice.
  9. Serve hot with a side of extra lemon slices and powdered sugar.
Notes
Easy method of sprinkling confectioner's (powdered) sugar: Fill a clean pepper shaker with powdered sugar and use it to lightly dust desserts.
To season your cast iron skillet: Add a few drops of vegetable oil to the skillet. Use a cloth to rub a very thin layer of oil on the entire surface of the skillet: inside, outside, bottom, the handles. Heat the skillet upside down in a 350 F oven for one hour (place an aluminum foil in the lower rack to catch any possible drops of oil). Let the skillet cool inside the oven.
The recipe for this pancake has been adapted from https://cooking.nytimes.com/
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Strawberry Cranberry Holiday Jam is made with two of my favorite berries that are available fresh at this time of year. This jam is delightfully simple to make, and it’s also one of the best of its kind that I’ve tasted! You might also like to know that there is no need to add packaged pectin powder here! I prefer to preserve fruit in its natural form when possible! Both of these berries happen to be very rich in natural pectin, which thickens as it cooks and creates this beautiful and tasty spread.  Previously I have posted two other jam recipes that you could make at this time of year, Moraba ye Seeb  (apple preserves) & Moraba ye Beh (quince preserves), and no pectin has been used in those jams either.

I’m so excited to share this no-fuss strawberry cranberry holiday jam recipe with you! It’s a breeze to make, it is delicious with whole pieces of fruit, and it has a gorgeous red color that is a perfect addition to any holiday breakfast or brunch. If you agree that homemade gifts make the most thoughtful presents, make a list of people who would love to receive this all-natural, fresh fruit jam at the upcoming holiday gift exchange. You will need only a few minutes to make this and it will be a special treat that you can make ahead and save some time later!

If you like sweet tart flavors, you’re going to love this jam. It is not excessively sweet, so it tastes fantastic as a spread on your morning toast as well as a mouthwatering topping for your ice cream! It is possible to use frozen fruits in this recipe, but we all know fresh is always better! Since it is fairly easy to find the fruits for this jam right now, I can not pass up on this fresh seasonal treat. Most supermarkets carry fresh strawberries all year round in the States; however, fresh cranberries are only available October through November and December. Cranberries freeze very well without sticking together.  Every year around the holidays I  freeze couple of large gallon-size bags and use them all year round in sweet and savory dishes such as Cranberry Upside Down Cake, Cranberry Chocolate Bars, and Turkey with Cranberry Polo , but I make a point of making at least several jars of my favorite jam with fresh fruit every year!

The summer strawberries might be sweeter but if you’re able to find beautiful red ones this time of year, they are still very fragrant. The strawberries add a lot of flavor and color to this jam and they complement the seasonally fresh cranberries very nicely.

Rinse 2 pounds cranberries and 2 pounds strawberries under cold water and drain. Pick through the cranberries; discard the soft and blemished fruit. Remove the leaves from the strawberries and slice them lengthwise into  4, 6, or 8 wedges, depending on the size of the fruit. Add the strawberries to a 4-5 Qt heavy ceramic or stainless steel pot.

Mix in 4 cups of sugar with the strawberries and toss for a few minutes until the natural juices of the strawberries color the sugar.  Add the cranberries to the pot, squeeze the juice of half a lemon (about 1-2 tsp) in the pot. Smash and mix the fruits and sugar with two forks or a potato masher until a thick, sugary syrup builds in the pot. Heat over medium or medium low heat. I usually use a heat diffuser and use medium heat to bring the syrup to an active boil. The heat diffuser prevents the bottom of the fruit from sticking and burning. If you’r not using one, bring it to boil over medium low.

Once the jam comes to a boil and a thick foam collects on top, continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the jam to prevent sticking. The jam is ready when the fruit is very tender and cooked through and the syrup is thickened and clear.

Allow the Strawberry Cranberry jam to cool 5-10 minutes in the pot, then spoon it into clean and dry jars with tight lids. I personally prefer the small 8-ounce size jars, but you could use larger jars if you wish. Allow the jam to cool completely over the counter without the lids. You may drape a thin kitchen towel loosely over the jars during this cooling period.

As you can see in this pictures, when the jam cools it thickens enough that it will not spill out of the jar when you tilt it slightly. Keep in mind that no packaged pectin has been used in this fantastic jam; it’s all natural and you will see and taste the difference. Cover the jars with tight lids and store in the refrigerator for the next few months.

This sweet and tart, No-pectin jam spreads smoothly on Barbari, toast, and English muffin. Enjoy it with unsalted butter or cream cheese on your choice of bread, or use it as a refreshing topping over yogurt or ice cream! Strawberry Cranberry jam is going to become your favorite holiday treat for your own home, or as a thoughtful gift for friends and family. I would love to hear from you if you give this recipe a try. Enjoy it in good health and make a few extra jars to keep the magic of holiday going for a few more months longer!

 

STRAWBERRY CRANBERRY JAM
 
Yield: Eight 8-ounce jars
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cooking time: About 25 minutes
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Jam/Preserves
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 2 pounds fresh cranberries
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Pick through the cranberries and discard the soft ones. Rinse under cold water and drain in a colander.
  2. Rinse the strawberries under cold water. Remove the leaves and cut the berries lengthwise into 4-8 pieces, depending on the size of the fruit.
  3. Add the strawberries to a heavy bottomed stainless-steel pot (4-5 Qt size)
  4. Add all of the sugar to the pot and stir for a few minutes until the natural juices from the strawberries start mixing with the sugar.
  5. Add the cranberries and fresh lemon juice to the pot and gently mash the berries with a potato masher, or couple of forks, just until you notice the sugary syrup form in the pot.The idea is to work the sugar into the berries to bring out their juice, without chopping them to small pieces.
  6. Place the pot over a heat diffuser and keep stirring over medium or medium low heat. The heat diffuser prevents sticking and burning to some degree, so if you’re not using it, heat on medium low to prevent sticking.
  7. Stir and continue heating until the syrup comes to a full boil and a thick pink foam collects on top.
  8. Allow the jam to keep cooking on a consistent low boil for 20-25 minutes. Check and stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  9. The jam is ready when the syrup is thickened, and the berries are tender and cooked through. Both strawberries and cranberries have a lot of natural pectin, so you will not need to add any packaged pectin to make this jam, and it thickens further as it cools.
  10. Remove the pot from heat and allow the jam to cool 5-10 minutes, before spooning it into clean and dry jars with tight lids. I’ve used small 8-ounce jars, but you could use larger jars if you wish. Allow the jam to cool completely in the jars over the counter before closing the lids and refrigerating them.
  11. Serve this holiday jam over Barbari, toasted baguette or your favorite bread. The sweet tart flavor of this jam also makes it a perfect topping for ice cream!
Notes
To freeze cranberries: Pick through and rinse the berries under cold water. Drain all the water and allow the surface moisture of berries to air dry on the counter. Place the berries in freezer bags and store in the freezer for several months. Use frozen or thawed.
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In a perfect world the people from different cultures would come together in harmony, to enrich and spice up the quality of life on this planet of ours. Turkey and Cranberry Polo, ‘rice’ is my way of bringing together two cultural dishes, with origins thousands of miles apart. This is a delightful dish with exquisite flavors that will be a festive treat for the upcoming holidays and years to come!

I have developed a recipe that is a festive and gorgeous holiday dish with a Persian flair; no whole turkey required! This turkey and cranberry rice is pleasing to the eye as well as a feast for the taste buds, and it’s made with enough turkey for an intimate gathering.

The ingredients and makeup of this dish is different from the traditional turkey dinner, or the usual Iranian zereshk polo ba morgh. However, turkey has never been so juicy and tender, and the cranberries make a delicious substitute for the popular zereshk. Barberry, or zereshk, is the small tart berries of a thorny bush that grows only in certain parts of the world, and Iran is one of the main producers of culinary zereshk, that grows in the Khorasan Province in the northeast.

Fresh and dried cranberries are used to trim and flavor this turkey and rice dinner. The turkey is slow cooked in tomato saffron sauce in a Dutch oven. The basic technique is very similar to the chicken that I make for zereshk polo, but instead of zereshk I’ve added fresh tart cranberries. The reason that I came up with this recipe is that zereskh is not readily available in regular supermarkets, but this time of year shiny red fresh cranberries are available in the produce section of just about every neighborhood market.

Sweet tart dried cranberries are used for the cranberry and pistachio polo, also reminiscent of the famous Persian zereshk polo. To give this delicious holiday berry a special flavor and a festive beauty, I’ve sautéed it briefly with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fried onions. To add an interesting texture and a beautiful contrast in color I’ve added some sliced pistachios, which add just the right touch to this glorious rice.

The following pictures are to illustrate some of the preparation process for this meal. Please see the printable recipe for the detailed instructions:

Add the skinless, bone-in turkey thighs, onion halves, salt, pepper, ground turmeric, and water to a 5-6 Qt Dutch oven. The heavy cast iron construction and tight lid of the Dutch oven delivers the best results, but you could use another heavy bottomed pot if needed. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and skim the foam from the surface. Reduce the heat to the mark between low and medium low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. Turn the thighs and cook the other side for another hour, or until the meat is fork tender but still holds its shape. With the meat side up, sprinkle some optional ground saffron powder on the thighs, and rub it on the entire surface with the back of a spoon (this gives a great color to the turkey without using too much saffron).

Meanwhile thinly slice and fry 2 medium onions in 2-3 tablespoons of oil to golden brown, divide in half (you will be using half of this for the turkey and the other half for the rice); set it aside.

 Add 1 TBSP tomato paste to half of the fried onions and saute for couple of minutes until aromatic, and mix it in the broth that turkey is cooking in. Pick through and rinse 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries under cold water and add to the pot. Add 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice to the pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to the mark between low and medium low (the cranberries will pop at a higher heat and won’t be as pretty), cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

To make the rice, follow the instructions according to my Persian steamed rice post. I have used potato tahdig in this recipe but you could select your choice of tahdig. Thin slices of potatoes are sprinkled with ground saffron powder.

Toss the sliced potatoes with ground saffron powder and 1 TBSP water until all the slices are coated and yellow in color. Heat oils in the nonstick rice pot and arrange the potatoes as shown in the picture. Use a spatula to transfer the par cooked rice over the potatoes. Sprinkle a small amount of optional ground saffron powder between the layers of rice, if you wish. Steam the rice for 45 minutes to an hour until the tahdig is crispy and golden. Meanwhile add the dried cranberries to the reserved fried onions with a pinch of ground saffron powder and 1/2 tsp lemon juice and toss over low heat for 2-3 minutes until the cranberries are soft and bright red in color. Push the cranberry mixture aside and add the sliced pistachios and toss briefly to coat with the oil in the skillet.

To serve, add 1/3 of the steamed rice to the serving platter, add 1/3 of the cranberry mixture. Repeat this 2 more times until all the rice is finished, and the top layer is cranberry mixture. Sprinkle sliced pistachios on top for color and texture.

Invert the crispy potato tahdig onto another serving platter

Transfer the turkey and broth from the stockpot to a serving dish with sides

Turkey with Cranberry rice is served with all its beauty, and enchanting flavors and textures. Have your guests help themselves to the rice; top it with some of the turkey and rich saffron broth, and don’t forget to offer some of the tahdig (if there is any left at this point) to everyone. Enjoy this dish for your holidays, or anytime of year! Cheers and joy to all!

 

Turkey and Cranberry Polo
 
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Combined cooking time: 2½ - 3 hours
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Persian American
Ingredients
  • For the Turkey:
  • 2 large skinless, bone-in turkey thighs (about 3 ½ - 4 pounds)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/16 tsp ground saffron powder (optional)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, sliced thin and fried until golden brown (divided, ½ for turkey, ½ for the rice)
  • 2-3 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onions
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, or frozen cranberries
  • For the Cranberry Polo:
  • 3 cups uncooked basmati rice (recipe for steamed rice HERE)
  • Half of the fried onions
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, rinse under cold water and drain completely
  • A pinch of ground saffron powder
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sliced or chopped pistachios
  • For the Potato Tahdig:
  • 1 ½ - 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (I used a chips cutter)
  • 1/16 tsp ground saffron powder (optional)
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • A light sprinkle of kosher salt
  • Optional: Extra ground saffron, to sprinkle between the layers of rice
Instructions
  1. Add the skinless turkey thighs, onion halves, ground turmeric, ground pepper, salt and water to a 5-6 Qt. Dutch oven, or another heavy bottomed pot with a tight lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim the foam from the top.
  2. Reduce the heat to between low and medium low; cover the pot and cook for 1 hour. Turn the thighs and continue cooking for 1 more hour, or until the meat is completely tender but still holds its shape. Discard the onion halves.
  3. Meanwhile in a large skillet fry the sliced onions in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil until golden brown. Reserve half of the fried onions for the rice.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste to the rest of the fried onions and sauté over medium low for couple of minutes until aromatic; mix into the broth that turkey is cooking in.
  5. Sprinkle 1/16 teaspoon saffron (optional) on the meat side of the thighs and use the back of a spoon to rub it all over the tops until evenly covered. This simple technique gives a good color to the thighs without using a lot of precious saffron.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 ½ cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries to the broth. Cover the pot and simmer over the mark between low and medium low for 30 minutes (the cranberries will pop over higher heat and the presentation will not be as pretty). Open the lid 3-4 times and baste the top of the turkey thighs with the broth to give the meat a rich golden brown glazed look.
  7. To make the tahdig: Sprinkle the sliced potatoes with ground saffron powder, add 1 tablespoon water, and stir to coat all the slices.
  8. Heat the oils until sizzling.Turn the heat off. Starting from the outer edge of the pot, arrange the saffron potato slices. with each slice overlapping the previous one half way (see the picture). Continue until the bottom of the pot is covered. Use a rubber spatula and scrape all the saffron and water and drizzle over the potato slices.
  9. Lightly sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to add the rice over the potatoes; sprinkle a pinch of ground saffron powder in between the layers if you wish. Cover the lid with damkesh and steam over medium low for 45 minutes to one hour, or until steam rises and the potato tahdig is golden and crispy.
  10. Prepare the cranberry/onion mixture: Saute the reserved fried onions, dried cranberries, pinch of optional saffron, and ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice in a medium skillet, over low heat, until the cranberries are glistening and bright red.
  11. In the same skillet, push the cranberry/fried onion mixture to the side and add the pistachios and sauté briefly, just until coated with oil.
  12. To assemble the Cranberry Polo: Use a spatula to transfer ⅓ steamed rice to the serving platter. Sprinkle ⅓ of the cranberry/fried onion mixture over the rice, and repeat until both are finished with the top layer being the cranberry/fried onion mixture. Sprinkle the pistachios on top.
  13. Invert the crispy golden potato tahdig onto another platter.
  14. Serve the turkey and broth in a deep serving dish and have your guests help themselves to the rice and top it with turkey and some of the broth.
Notes
Freeze cranberries when in season (Oct-Nov) and use them all year round. Pick through and discard any soft berries, then rinse under cold water. Drain all the water and allow the surface moisture to air dry for an hour or so in the colander...
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The spicy pumpkin seeds are delicious and crunchy and one of the best snacks for these cold fall nights, over warm conversations; ask any Iranian! Yes, roasted seeds and nuts are a favorite among Iranians, and there is an enormous selection of both in Iran. Among some of the most popular ‘ajil’ (mixed nuts and seeds) exports, Iran’s pistachios are one of the best in the world and are famous for their size and taste. There are several substantial nut shops in every city of Iran; one of the most trusted and popular ones is called Tavazo, with headquarters in Tabriz and many branches in different cities throughout. Some of the smaller, more old-fashioned shops roast their own seeds and nuts onsite. If you happen to walk by one of these shops, the aroma of freshly roasted nuts is mouthwatering and there is nothing like it.

This time of year, parents and children in most Western households are busy carving pumpkins for Halloween, and some just use this beautiful orange fruit/vegetable as fall decorations. Instead of throwing away those millions of seeds, you could transform them into a delicious and healthy snack. I agree, cleaning the seeds is not too much fun; the messy pulp, the sticky fiber and all, but it’s so worth it! So, if you can get your kids to join in the fun and clean them, the best way is to remove the larger fibers and add the seeds to a colander. Place the colander in the sink and clean the seeds by rubbing them together between the palms of your hands under running cool water. Once the seeds are clean, let all the excess water to drain. There is no need to dry them for this recipe.

These days around here, we use pumpkins mostly as fall decorations; no carving, no seeds! We improvise and buy raw, unroasted pumpkin seeds, all year round, from Persian, or Middle Eastern markets in our area. If you have ever bought salted/roasted pumpkin seeds, you must have noticed how ridiculously salty they can be! Some brands have a thick layer of salt on the shell, so salt is almost all you can taste. If you love to snack on pumpkin seeds, you’re going to love this recipe!

So, no matter how you acquire your pumpkin seeds, you will love this homemade spicy and crunchy vegan snack. It’s amazing what a generous amount of lemon juice and a few spices can do. There is no fat used in roasting these seeds. Low heat is recommended to roast perfect spicy pumpkin seeds, so that the shells do not brown, but rather gently roast inside out. There is no preparation needed, as I’ve used the store-bought lemon juice here. I’m a devoted fan of fresh lemon juice in the rest of my cooking. I have experimented making these spicy pumpkin seeds with fresh lemon juice before, but since the bottled kind has a more intense flavor, it works best to achieve a spicy sour lemon flavor.

As I mentioned, there is no fat added when roasting these spicy pumpkin seeds. The seeds are stirred and heated over medium heat with lemon juice, spices and salt for a few minutes at the beginning until the lemon juice is cooked off and gets absorbed into the seeds. Then the heat is reduced to medium low for a few more minutes with frequent stirring until the shells dry out. The cores are still very soft at this point and they need about 2 hours of roasting on low heat; longer for fresh pumpkin seeds. During this time the heat setting is just above low and an occasional stir is all it needs. At this point you don’t have to watch the seeds constantly, once you know that the heat setting on your burner is not browning the seeds, you could leave them on the stove and every half hour or so give them a stir. When you can easily crack the shell and the inside is nice and crunchy, it is ready. Enjoy some warm, YUM!!

5.0 from 1 reviews
SPICY PUMPKIN SEEDS
 
Yields: About 10 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Persian
Ingredients
  • 10 cups (2 pounds) raw pumpkin seeds, store-bought or fresh {please see notes for cleaning}
  • 1 ½ cups lemon juice, store-bought (I've used ReaLemon)
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Add the pumpkin seeds to a large 12-inch skillet.
  2. Pour the lemon juice in the skillet and stir over medium heat, just to coat all the seeds.
  3. Immediately add the spices and salt, and continue stirring until a uniform yellow color is reached.
  4. Stir frequently and continue heating over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until all the lemon juice is cooked off, but the seeds still look wet.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir occasionally for 15 minutes, or until the seeds look dry. At this point the shells are soft.
  6. Reduce the heat just above low and heat until the seeds are roasted dry and are easy to crack without any soft core. If the shells are browning, reduce the heat even more. This could take up to 2-3 hours on this low heat, but you will be very pleased with the result. I don’t recommend increasing the heat, because that tends to roast the seeds unevenly, and you will end up with seeds that are browned on the outside but still soft inside.
  7. Cool the seeds completely in the skillet, then store them in an airtight container, in your pantry for 2-3 weeks.
Notes
To clean the pumpkin seeds: After scooping out the seeds from your pumpkin, remove as much of the larger pieces of pulp and fiber as possible. Add the seeds to a colander. Place the colander in the kitchen sink and clean the seeds by rubbing them together between the palms of your hands under running cool water. Once the seeds are clean, shake the colander several times and let all the excess water drain completely. There is no need to dry them for this recipe.
To reduce the recipe: If you want to roast half the amount indicated in the recipe, use a smaller skillet.
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Turmeric milk, also known as the “golden milk,” is like a warming ray of sunshine that is soothing and relaxing anytime of the day or night; the perfect ‘me time’ drink! I make mine with 1% milk, but also love it with coconut or almond milk. Ground turmeric, chopped fresh ginger root, cinnamon bark, and black peppercorns are heated in a bit of coconut oil, then the milk is added. Once the milk is nice and hot, it may be sweetened with a teaspoon of honey, but this gorgeous, golden drink is so tasty and smooth that it does not need anything else.

Turmeric is a warm spice with gold-yellow color and a bitter spicy flavor, that is a known antioxidant. This spice has been used in Asia for thousands of years. The turmeric plant grows in warm climates such as India and Australia. Turmeric is used in savory Persian dishes for flavoring a variety of meats such as, lamb, beef, chicken and turkey, as well as many vegetarian dishes. Some of the recipes that I wish for you to try are gheymeh, abgoosht, kalam polo, dolmeh bademjan just to name a few!

All of these super spices add amazing flavor to turmeric golden milk, and they also have numerous known health benefits that enrich its medicinal value. The earthy spiciness of turmeric, the spicy kick of black peppercorns, the fragrant heat of ginger, as well as the sweet warmth of cinnamon are also packed with antioxidants, and are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric is usually cooked in savory Persian dishes along with black pepper as the base flavor. I guess our ancestors knew how to create delicious foods, but whether they were aware that the super spice black pepper facilitates the absorption of this golden spice is another story. As it turns out the quick digestion of turmeric is slowed down by black pepper, so it can be absorbed by our body for the maximum benefit. I heat the spices in a small amount of coconut oil to enhance their flavor and aroma, and this fat also aids in the absorption of turmeric.

Now that I have mentioned some of the amazing properties of turmeric, I feel I should bring up a subject that is of some concern to me. I have come across some recipes that instruct the reader to use turmeric instead of saffron due to the high price of saffron; this is a misleading statement with very disappointing results! I was brought up enjoying delicious foods prepared with saffron, as well as turmeric, and I love and use them both in my recipes. Turmeric gives a golden color to food; saffron does too, with a different hue. That is where the faint similarity between these two spices ends. Turmeric can not replace saffron, any more than saffron can take the place of turmeric in recipes.

I am a true fan of spices because of their aroma, flavor, and health benefits. Turmeric golden milk is like a warm hug on a chilly day, or a long night. It is also incredibly soothing for colds and sniffles that are almost inevitable in these cold months. You may increase the ingredients and make 2-3 batches of the following recipe and store the extra covered in the fridge, and warm it up and drink it in the next couple of days. I personally prefer to drink it steaming hot, while the whole kitchen is filled with the aroma of spices! Keep warm my friends!

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
TURMERIC GOLDEN MILK
 
Yields: 1 cup
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Hot Beverage
Cuisine: International
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1-inch unpeeled fresh ginger root, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
  • 1 cup milk (your choice of 1% regular milk, coconut, or almond)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Optional: 3-4 cardamom pods
Instructions
  1. Add one teaspoon coconut oil and the rest of the spices to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes until aromatic
  2. Add 1 cup milk to the saucepan and heat over medium low until very hot and steaming without boiling.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine metal mesh to catch the solids. Pour into a cup or a small bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon honey, and enjoy!
  4. Optional: You may also add 3-4 whole cardamom pods to the spices.
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Olive Oil Dip with Fresh Herbs is easy to make and it’s one of the best starters for many meals, but it certainly is a must before indulging in an Italian meal! Whenever we go to our favorite Italian restaurant, I can’t wait to dip chunks of their warm crusty Italian bread in a bowl of olive oil and herb dip. I have a bit of issue with the amount of herbs that they add to the bowl though! It has become more scant over the years, and that is just too little of a good thing! When I make this dip at home, I add generous amounts of chopped fresh herbs and spices with just the right balance of heat and saltiness. I love each and every culinary herb, but when several herbs are mixed together the resulting aroma and flavor is out of this world. We also have a fresh herb mixture in Persian cuisine that is called ‘sabzi khordan,’ which is enjoyed before meals, as an appetizer with bread and cheese ‘loghmeh,’ or by itself on the side of most Persian dishes. The difference is that the herbs for sabzi khordan are cut into bite size pieces, and not chopped.

From left to right: French tarragon, Italian parsley, and Greek oregano are aromatic and are a great addition to this olive oil dip. When these herbs are chopped fine with a sharp knife, their flavor is released into olive oil and transforms this beneficial oil into an extraordinary dip for a loaf of crusty bread.

From left to right: Rosemary, Thai basil, German thyme are also perfect to use in this dip because of their intense spicy flavor. Olive oil is infused with these flavors and that of garlic and ginger. You may use all, or some of these herbs, or even add some of your own favorites. The only herbs that are not suitable for this dip are the very delicate ones such as, cilantro, and sweet basil, which tend to brown and get mushy beyond the first day that the dip is made. The other herbs that I’ve mentioned keep well for up to 3 days in the fridge after they are mixed with the spices and olive oil.


Finely chop fresh herbs, use the leaves and soft stems only (avoid tough and woody stems). Add minced garlic (use a garlic press or chop very fine with a knife). Peel and mince the fresh ginger and add to the bowl. Add the kosher salt and red pepper flakes and mix well.

Stir in 6 tablespoons of a high quality olive oil with a delicious and palatable flavor. Use the dip right away or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dip may be prepared with dried herbs, but fresh herbs have superior flavor and texture. If all the herbs are not available, a combination of 3 parts parsley to 1 part rosemary mixed with the rest of spices makes a very fragrant dip also.

A simple side of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese adds a variation to serving this bread dip and makes it a more interesting appetizer.

I usually serve a bowl of pitted kalamata olives on the side as well, which tastes really good with this dip!

To serve, add couple of tablespoons of the prepared herb/olive oil mixture to a small bowl and drizzle more olive oil for dipping. Offer pieces of crusty French baguette, or Italian bread for everyone to dip. You may add your own sides and create an inviting spread around this simply delicious bread dip. You will love the ease and convenience of putting it together ahead of time and everyone will enjoy these delectable bites.

 

OLIVE OIL DIP WITH FRESH HERBS
 
Yields: About ½ cup
Author: Homa
Recipe type: Dip/Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 TBSP high quality olive oil
  • Pieces of crusty bread
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese slices
  • Pitted kalamata olives
  • Extra high quality olive oil for dipping
Instructions
  1. Add crushed garlic cloves, minced ginger root, red pepper flakes and kosher salt to a bowl and mix well for couple of minutes to incorporate. Set aside.
  2. Use the leaves and only tender stems of the herbs. Use a sharp knife to finely chop the herbs, and add them to the bowl and mix into the garlic blend.
  3. Add 6 tablespoon high quality olive oil to the mixture. At this point the herbs may be used in the dip or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in the refrigerator; the olive oil preserves the herbs and keeps them from turning brown and spoiling.
  4. To make the dip: Add 1 tablespoons of the herb mixture to ¼ cup of olive oil and stir to mix. If you find that the olive oil in the herb mixture has solidified in the fridge, simply leave it out for 5-10 minutes before mixing it in the extra olive oil.
  5. Serve with pieces of crusty Italian bread, or French baguette, slices of fresh mozzarella, and pitted kalamata olives
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