Saturday, July 26, 2008

Epazote Black Bean Burrito

Epazote Black Bean Burrito
rolled in fresh corn tortillas and served with avocado salsa and pico de gallo

I added some corn for fun here:

The Pico de Gallo:

Avocado Salsa:

The dough for the tortillas de maize:

This was so easy and absolutely delicious - from the same cookbook as last night!
(image from gourmet sleuth)

Epazote is a traditional Aztec herb used in true Mexican cooking. When I showed it to my family, they all (separately) decided it smelled and tasted like gasoline...but I thought it was more of a lemony bleach smell =)

I had read about it before, but when I saw it at a stand in Pike Place, I couldn't resist! I had never found it anywhere else, though I'm sure it could be found in a Latin market in White Center.

Don't fear the stench - it is known as skunk/stinkweed, but cooks up to a marvelous bitter lemony flavor that actually complements the beans greatly. Not to mention it has the power to reduce the gas from the beans!

I finally figured out the secret to the tortillas - more water! I think I ended up with well over the recommended amount, (about 3:2 ratio of corn to water), but a much smoother texture. They beat storebought tortillas 100:1. It's not even comparable. I hated corn tortillas until I made them fresh.

Best of all, this is dirt cheap, and even meatless, yet good!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bison Kabob Mashwi with Loomi

Bison Kabob Mashwi
seasoned with spices and loomi then grilled and served with spiced brown rice, salate, and seer moss (garlic yogurt), topped with sumac

The mint, garlic, and lemon yogurt sauce, dusted with sumac!

I picked up free-roaming, grass fed, all natural ground bison (buffalo) at Pike Place today! It was random and a great idea. It is so much more sustainable, leaner, healthier, and I dare say a touch more flavorful than beef. In case you have never tried it - I highly recommend it. I found the ground meat for $5.69/lb, which at its fat level of <7%, natural beef is no cheaper! I'm trying to do a bit more research, but from what I have read thus far - the bison is native to America, and when free-roaming does not have nearly the same impact as commercial beef. However, I'm sure either in excess would be harmful, so it's a nice occasional treat.

On to the seasonings! I got the recipe for the kabobs from that great cookbook Nate gave me: "Cooking with Herbs and Spices" by Linda Tubby.

Truly delicious - whole dried lemons, used from around the Arab world. Traditionally buried in the sand to dry! I bought them whole from PFI, split it in half and ground it up and put it in the meat mix.

Otherwise, it had a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, and turmeric. It also had onion, mint and parsley (the recipe called for marjoram, which I lacked).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fennel-crusted Sockeye

Fennel-crusted Wild Sockeye Salmon
braised in a San Marzano tomato , white wine, and spinach sauce and served with brown rice, topped with Parmagiano Reggiano and fresh thyme.

The spices! Ground fennel seed, Spanish Paprika, Breadcrumbs, Pepper, and Sea Salt

The whole plate, with fresh flowering thyme.

The salmon before cooking in the sauce:

An original creation - I love love loved the fennel with the salmon - I was quite pleasantly surprised by the way it goes with it!

This was also my first time filleting a whole fish - it was so cheap, so why not! I definitely am no fishmonger was pretty ugly. Luckily I boiled the bones and the meat I accidentally left on for a stock and added it back into the sauce, so nothing was wasted.

Fennel is a nice earthy spice, made from the seeds of flowering fennel. A lot of people don't realize can actually be put in more than sausage. The dry seed, when eaten like sunflower seeds, is a nice and spicy breath freshener in India, and actually really helps cure tummy aches from overeating...something I am all too familiar with!

Fresh fennel is also amazing - try the bulb sliced and roasted in the oven with a little balsamico and olive oil.

My self critique:

In retrospect, I realized that salmon is just so good on its own, I shouldn't have braised it at all! The fennel crust by itself, maybe with some sauce on the side, would be more than adequate. However, it still came through and was quite delicious.

Also: spinach is WAY too powerful for this dish - I was trying to get some veggies in, and it wasn't terrible, but it really overtook the sauce, and also looked quite unnappetizing after half an hour in the oven...

Fennel Crust (estimated!):

4 parts breadcrumbs
3 parts dry fennel seeds, ground
1 part spanish paprika
1 part fresh cracked black pepper

Simple, but very, um, yum.

Publish Post

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garlic breath never tasted so good...

Foul Mudammas
Fava beans with fresh garlic, lemon, and olive oil. Topped with a tomato and cucumber relish and a generous sprinkle of sumac

Let me just say - DSLRs with macro lenses do amazing things.

Foul Mudammas is truly one of my favorite foods - strong, bright flavors and extremely healthy. The only downsides: horrendous garlic breath (the garlic is traditionally raw) and you feel stuffed for over four hours (could be an upside on a diet).

It's a traditional breakfast dish in Lebanon and has variants all over the Middle East. They don't eat it in Afghanistan, but my father was introduced to it while studying in Beirut and got me obsessed with it.

My dirty little secret: I almost always use canned beans - you never know when you want it the night before!


1 can cooked fava beans (or "foul mudammas" in a can)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Lemon, juice
3 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To serve:
Fresh naan
Sumac and/or Minced parsley

Heat the beans, then remove from heat and mix in all the other ingredients. Done!

Most unappetizing title ever: Bone With a Hole in it & fake risotto.

also known as:

Osso Bucco
Beef shanks braised in white wine, soffritto, and a bouquet garni of fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano. Topped with gremolata and served with orzo faux-risotto.

Yes, I know it's usually veal - but I use what I have! I've never actually had this in a restaurant, so I can't say for sure how close it was. However, the recipes I looked at were similar, and this seemed pretty tasty regardless!

The "faux risotto".

The basil leaf on top was a little odd, I'll admit. I was thinking flag...

In any case, it turned out very well in my opinion - though we did end up eating around 10PM because I started far too late! Beef especially takes a very long time braising in the oven.

The gremolata was delicious - lemon and orange rind, parsley, and garlic. However, I might cut the orange - one recipe called for it, but I tend to dislike orange and meat for some reason. Maybe just use a lot less - it's much more dominating than the other flavors.

The faux risotto with orzo pasta was actually something I randomly thought of, but with a quick google search, it appears celebrity chef Emeril already thought of it...damn. It works just like a risotto, and turns out almost as good! Great when you are in a pinch for arborio rice (the traditional rice for risotto), or just a nice change.

Orzo "faux" risotto:

1 lb orzo pasta
~4+ cups warm stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, minced
1 cup peas, cooked
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped, plus more to garnish.
4+ tbsps Parmiggiano Reggiano, plus more to garnish.
4 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat the oil on med-low heat.
Add onion and cook until translucent.
Add orzo and cook until translucent and fully coated in olive oil. Can be lightly toasted.
Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not brown
Add wine to deglaze (can add earlier if things are getting stuck).
Add about 3/4 cup of stock. Stir. Once absorbed and sizzling, add same amount again.
Repeat until al dente and still a little creamy, just like a risotto!
Remove from heat and mix in remaining ingredients.
Garnish with extra cheese and parsley.
Serve immediately.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Burani Bonjon

Burani Bonjon
Eggplant braised in a spicy tomato sauce smothered with a mint-garlic yogurt sauce and garnished with fresh cilantro.

There's some zucchini mixed in cooked the same way for those who didn't like eggplant

The whole platter, as served to 15 hungry friends a couple weeks back:

This is a classic Afghan dish - one of the most renown and well-loved. My rendition here was made on a bit of a large scale and a time crunch, so the presentation wasn't as elegant as it can be (many of the eggplant slices broke). Kabul does and excellent version of this dish.

By request, the (approximate, as always with me) recipe:


1 large eggplant/2-3 zucchini (this is going to vary wildly on the size of your eggplants - I'm referring to the typical supermarket variety that is about 8" long and 4-5" in diameter - pear shaped)

1/2 can diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Canola (vegetable) oil, as needed, approximately 6 tbsps
1 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tbps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cayenne or Red Pepper (optional)

For the yogurt sauce - Seer Moss - literally "garlic yogurt":

1 cup plain yogurt (fattier the better - greek is truly divine, though a bit hard on the arteries)
4 cloves Garlic, pressed or smashed and minced (to taste - I like it strong)
~2 tbsps Lemon/Lime Juice
2+ tbps minced fresh mint (this can be omitted, but is typical)
2 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Slice eggplants (or zucchini) thickly - 1/4"
If using eggplants, salt liberally on both sides. Let drain for 30 min - 1 hr. Rinse clean and pat dry.
Heat olive oil on low heat and add garlic. Saute until fragrant but not brown and reserve.
Fry both sides on med-high with the canola oil until golden brown, adding more oil as needed. Be sure to heat the oil first and spread it around so one slice doesn't soak it all up. This is not a low-fat dish! But do not deep fry.
Reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, cilantro, reserved garlic and olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add water if needed to keep from frying - you want it to simmer with the liquid level at about the same height as the eggplant.
Simmer for 20 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.

For the sauce:

Combine all ingredients and let chill for at least one hour. If you are short on time, add the mint to the lemon juice and let sit for at least twenty minutes, then combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Note: Omit the oil if using whole-milk or greek yogurt.

I promise - even if you don't like eggplants, you will probably like this dish. The end product should feel fresh and light, in spite of the oil content.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

le omelette...

filled with sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and lightly sauteed red onion, bell pepper and garlic

This is really another way of saying I haven't been really cooking for the past week - so busy! I did make a delicious dill-lentil-almond pilau for a potluck however, but that'll come later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why you don't always have to grill bloody things...

Pizza alla Griglia*
with whole wheat dough, olive oil, mozzarella, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, grilled zucchini and fresh basil

* "grilled pizza"! - I'm pretending I know Italian.

I had to split it into two sections just for ease of cooking:

Absolutely phenomenal. I was really truly pleased with this one- and that's hard for me. There were weak points - my crust, while good, needed to be lighter. Apparently I can achieve this by adding in some gluten into my whole-wheat dough so it rises more. That'll definitely be on my list. But the toppings and the grilled flavor in the dough can't be beat. The grilled zucchini was absolutely delicious. I intentionally didn't cover the pizza with cheese - I wanted to see my ingredients.

Thanks to: Steve Raichlen and his great cookbook which gave the inspiration and dough recipe: How to Grill

How to grill pizza:

Make the dough (find a recipe!). Then roll it out onto well oiled aluminum foil or a long board or cookie sheet. I used aluminum, but next time I'll try a board. I wouldn't worry about the shape - that's kind of the beauty of it. But I modeled my shape after the grill.

I split mine in two, and then carried the pieces over to my well-oiled, very hot grill and flipped them upside down to release the dough onto the grate. Once one side is nice and golden, flip it over and QUICKLY add all the toppings you want! Lower the heat a lot, or prepare a cooler part of the grill, or raise the grates. Now close the lid and leave it alone so everything melts and the crust gets browned but not burned. Mine burned a little before the cheese was melted completely since I left the heat a touch high.