International Cuisine: Sabse Borani

I know, I know,  I said it would be market fresh but a girl can change her mind, right? My boys and I made this yummy dish last week during our study of Afghanistan. I found the recipe online and we all loved it! I served it on naan and as much as I would love to impress you and say that I made the wonderful onion naan, it would be a lie….it was a mix. There, I admitted it. 🙂 It worked out great and since my kiddos were helping, it made the process more age appropriate for them. Perhaps the making of naan from scratch will occur one of these days. In the mean time, this was easy and fabulous.


Sabse Borani

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4 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup lightly drained plain yogurt (drain about 1 hr – easiest method is to place the yogurt in a coffee filter and let stand)

Place damp spinach in a skillet and cook until wilted (can cover). Drain and squeeze to remove excess water. Heat oil in a large skillet, sauté onion at low heat until golden, add garlic and sauté briefly, then add spinach, and cook for a minute or two more. Let cool. In a bowl, smooth yogurt and add spinach mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Delicious! We love it on the naan – kind of  like a pizza!

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Off The Shelf: July Magazines

Here it is time for another edition of monthly cooking magazines! We hope you enjoy!

Cooking Light (Heather) – this is a big, beautiful summer issue but I found it sad that the only thing that really grabbed me, after several perusals, was the Greek Yogurt Parfaits. There is an attractive article on main dish salads, but they all seemed exotic except for the Southwestern Cobb Salad. I did find the melon and ketchup articles helpful but found many of the other summer recipes to be things I may never attempt (filet mignon, striped bass, shrimp salad).

I will say that the article on fruit cobblers looked amazing! Blueberry-Peach Cobbler, Plum Cobbler, and Blackberry Cobbler sound like perfect desserts for summer evenings.

If you are interested in alternative burgers you will love their Lamb Burger, Poblano Beef Burger, Salmon Burger, Turkey Burger, and Brisket Burger. There are also articles on a Sydney Beach BBQ and Food in Singapore.

My take: If you are into gourmet grilling and lots of seafood this is a great issue for you.

We tried the Greek Yogurt Parfaits with wheat berries and the result was a lovely, nutritious (and festive) breakfast.

GREEK YOGURT PARFAITS
(Cooking Light, July 2010)
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1 cup uncooked grano (or wheat berries, brown rice or barley)
12 cups water, divided
1/4 cup orange blossom honey (I used local honey)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups plain 2% Greek-style yogurt (I strained 6 cups plain yogurt through cheesecloth for an hour or so to thicken it)
2 cups fresh berries (such as blackberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries)

Soak grano in 6 cups water overnight. Drain. Place in a medium saucepan with remaining 6 cups water over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until grano is just tender. Drain well. Stir in honey and salt.

Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt into each of 8 parfait glasses. Top yogurt with 3 Tbsp. grano and 2 Tbsp. berries. Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients.

Serves 8.

Everyday Food (Heather) — This issue is a devoted to summer fun and food and I found it very inspiring. You will find an article on wax beans, recipes for potato salad, picnic sides, beautiful summer drinks, summer roll how-to’s, main dish salads, grilled pizzas (my new fascination), an amazing array of burgers, dinners on the grill (complete with desserts), uses for tomatoes and cucumbers, and cool fruit desserts.

I’ll be keeping this issue close by for future summer inspiration.

At first glance I thought the Antipasti Sandwich was too complicated for my budget, but when I realized I could create a cheap date for my husband and I by making this, I didn’t have to think twice. It was so delicious! Of course a big part of making a good sandwich is finding good bread and I just happened to luck out on that one. So, if you try this sandwich, be sure to look for a loaf that will do the recipe justice.

ANTIPASTI SANDWICH
(Everyday Food, July/August 2010)
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coarse salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or garbanzo)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large

Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.

Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice fresh into strips.

Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.

Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with meat, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Serves 6 to 8. (My sandwich served almost 3)

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – What a wonderful issue filled with delicious looking photos and recipes. There were many dishes that are perfect for summer entertaining and grilling – there is a whole grilling section! There are a few versatile sauce recipes which looked so good. There is also a fantastic drink and dessert sections – the dishes look absolutely wonderful.

After perusing the issue and looking at the lovely pictures, I decided to make the grilled corn. It was excellent except for the fact that the corn I purchased was rather disappointing. I have yet to enjoy a truly excellent ear of corn this summer and to be fair, it’s a bit early for it. But the butter on this was simple to make and the flavor was delightful!

GRILLED CORN with HONEY-ANCHO CHILE BUTTER
(Bon Appetit, July 2010)
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8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
8 ears of corn, husked

Ingredient Tip: Ancho chile powder is available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in honey and cool.

Add oregano, coarse salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, and 6 tablespoons butter to butter mixture. Mix until smooth. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill corn until charred in spots, turning often, about 13 minutes. Transfer corn to platter. Serve with honey-ancho butter.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – Well, I already gave you a coleslaw recipe yesterday from this inspiring issue. The pull-out was for different kabobs and they have great ideas! I’m looking forward to using a couple of the kabob recipes for a family dinner later this month. The magazine features many summer drinks, great grilling and cook-out recipes, a variety of side dishes, and a delightful collection of desserts.

 One section was especially intriguing – 30 ideas for serving hotdogs. And so, the recipe I chose came from there. I was so surprised at how truly wonderful this recipe came out – the tomato and basil with the hotdogs provided an excellent flavor combination. And I’m excited to try some the other great ideas! [On a side note, I purchase hotdogs at Costco that are nitrite/nitrate-free, msg free, and are all beef hotdogs. They are very good, fairly affordable, and I feel okay about serving them to my family! ]

BRUSCHETTA HOTDOGS
(Food Network Magazine July/August 2010)
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Toss 2 diced tomatoes with 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, some torn basil and salt. Serve grilled hot dogs on toasted Italian buns; top with the tomato mixture and drizzle with olive oil.

Chocolate Giveaway!

We couldn’t have a week devoted to chocolate without a giveaway! So today, we offer a chocolate cookbook. The title is Celebrate with Chocolate, by: Marcel Desaulniers (also the author of Death by Chocolate Cake). 

It has delightful and impressive desserts and quite a lot of information about chocolate – working with it, different types etc. There are photos of some of the recipes in the center. Just the very name of some of the chocolate creations will make you want to step into your kitchen and whip up a little something – Hot Chocolate Snow Day Cakes, Pretty in Pink Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies, or maybe Chocolate Grasshopper Ice Cream Sandwich. The collection of recipes includes cakes, cookies, frozen delights, and truffles.

I decided to try Cocoa Berry Yogurt Mousse – it was a delicious, not-too-sweet, creamy, very easy, gluten-free dessert.  We enjoyed it and concluded that it was fancy enough to be the ending to a nice dinner but simple enough to be a last minute treat for unexpected guests.

COCOA BERRY YOGURT MOUSSE
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12 large fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 c. granulated sugar (opt.)

Cut the berries and add sugar if using fresh to increase juiciness. If using frozen berries just thaw and use including the juices (this was what I used!).  Divide between four glasses, cups, or dessert dishes.

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. plain lowfat yogurt

In a sifter combine the sugar and cocoa powder. Sift onto a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.

Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Operate the mixer on low speed while gradually adding the dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Now whisk on medium for 5 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the yogurt; fold the ingredients together with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Immediately spoon the yogurt mousse onto the strawberries in each glass. Serve immediately of cover the top of each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.

I garnished each dish with shaved dark chocolate and a strawberry. Delicious!

To enter this giveaway:
1) Leave a comment telling us your favorite chocolate dessert or kind of chocolate or your best chocolate memory.
2) Make sure we have a way to contact you!
3) You may gain an extra entry for each of the following (please tell us what you have done in your comment!) – subscribe to our feed, facebook about this giveaway, join our facebook group, or follow us on twitter. If you already do any of those, just let us know in your comment and you will get the extra entries!
4) This drawing will stay open through Tuesday, February 9.

Weekend Fare: Smoothies

Smoothies are perfect for the weekends or any day of the week. They often feature yogurt and/or milk but there are dairy-free recipes as well. You can boost their nutrients by adding protein powder, ground flax seed, or whatever other additives you prefer. Here are two that our family enjoy.

PINA COLADA SMOOTHIE
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1 c. vanilla yogurt
2 Tb. shredded coconut
8-10 oz. crushed pineapple w/juice
1/2 banana
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. The coconut will still have some texture, so if you don’t prefer that, you can make a pineapple-banana smoothie and omit the coconut or substitute coconut milk for the milk and shredded coconut! Serves 3-4.

STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE 
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1 c. vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1/2 c. fruit juice (I used a berry blend)

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Serves 2-3.

Preservation 101: Making Yogurt

With the proper equipment and the right instructions, homemade yogurt can be quick and easy to make, not to mention extremely cheap. The process below takes me about 40 minutes to make 1 gallon of yogurt (not including the incubation time) and costs me around $2. If you can come by some unhomogenized milk, or even raw milk, you will be surprised at how much better your yogurt will taste!

HOMEMADE YOGURT
(The Cooks Next Door)
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Step One: Gather your equipment
You will need a large stock pot, a candy thermometer, 1 gallon of milk (or however much you want to make into yogurt), 1/2 cup yogurt to act as a starter, glass jars, a cooler (or other method of incubation), empty gallon jug for warm water.

Step Two: Heat the milk
Pour the milk into the stock pot and turn onto high. The goal is to get the milk somewhere between 180F and 210F. You DO NOT want the milk to boil. I usually take my milk to 180F.

Step Three: Cool the milk
Remove the milk from the stove and place in a sink filled with cold water and ice. (I prepare the sink while the milk is heating). Your goal is to cool the milk quickly to somewhere between 110F and 120F. Do not stop before 120F.

Step Four: Add the starter
Remove the milk from the sink and whisk in the 1/4 cup yogurt to act as a starter. I often use Dannon plain yogurt.

Step Five: Incubate
Pour the milk into clean glass quart jars (or other size). Cover and place in a cooler into which you have placed a gallon or two of warm water (temperature should be about 120F). You want the yogurt to incubate at around 110F for 4-6 hours. Leave the yogurt unbothered until its time is up (shaking about will not help the yogurt set). I often make yogurt at some point in the afternoon and leave it to incubate until I go to bed (this means 4-8 hours). Longer incubation is fine, but you will get a sharper taste if you leave it longer than 6-8 hours. I prepare my heated water and cooler while the milk is heating.

Step Six: Refrigerate
Remove your yogurt from the cooler and place in the refrigerator. You will notice that it is firm now and will become even more firm once cooled in the refrigerator. For thick, delicious, Greek-style yogurt you can drain the yogurt in cheesecloth for about 2-3 hours.

Step Seven: Enjoy!
My kids love to eat our yogurt with a spoonful of jam mixed in. I like maple syrup drizzled over and my husband always prefers his plain. I keep my yogurt for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.