Khoresh Sabzi

Khoresh Sabzi, which means fresh herb stew in Persian, is one of the staple dishes in Persian cuisine. You will probably find this dish in every Persian restaurant. The unique flavor of this wonderful dish comes from the large amount of various greens and Omani lime which is a prevalent ingredient in Persian cuisine. Omani lime, also known as dried lime, can be found in Middle Eastern stores and online.

Khoresh sabzi represents the kind of food I consider perfect in every way. Besides the fact that it reminds me of my childhood and my father’s side of our family, it is delicious with very rich and unique flavors, and is satisfying in a way that only slow cooking food can satisfy. It is also super healthy and guilt free, so you can enjoy it anytime, even when on a diet.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 tbs oil
2 lb beef shank or chuck roast, or boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
6 cups water or broth
1 cup red kidney beans, soaked in water for 5 hours
5 Omani (dried) limes, crushed coarsely and seeded
½ tsp ground turmeric
Salt, Black pepper
4 cups parsley finely chopped
4 cups cilantro finely chopped
2 cups scallions finely chopped
2 cups leek (green part), chopped
1 cup celery leaves and stem chopped
1 cup dill finely chopped
Juice from one lemon (optional)

Preparation:
Place the beans in a pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook according to instructions until the beans are barely soft. When cooked, drain the water and set the beans aside.

Heat 3 tbs oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the meat and brown it for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the broth or water, the limes, the beans, turmeric, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes over medium heat.

In a separate pan, heat the remaining 3 tbs oil over medium heat, and sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. The greens should be wilted but still retain their bright green color. Add the greens to the pot with the meat. If you like the khoresh to have a pronounced sour tone, add the lemon juice, as well .

Cover and cook over medium low heat for 30 – 40 minutes longer, until the beans and the meat are cooked and are tender.

Serve in a soup bowl, together with white basmati rice.

Passover Pigs in Blanket

Mentally, it is a little hard for me to combine the words ‘pig’ and ‘Passover’ in the same phrase, let alone the same dish. But I guess this would be the closest way to describe the dish itself, so I let it go…

The idea is to use a wet matzah (matzot in plural) as the blanket to wrap any good quality sausage or hotdog that is not overly thick. In order to be able to roll the matzah around the sausage without it breaking and falling apart, you have to make sure it is pliable. You need to either dip the matzot in a large bowl filled with water (you may salt the water if you’d like) and let them soak for 20 seconds, or hold a bunch of matzot in your hands under running water and make sure the water gets into each matzah and covers it completely. Discard some of the water, but do not completely drain the matzot. They need be very wet and absorb a lot of water to be pliable. Place the wet matzot on a clean kitchen towel; wrap the towel around the matzot and place in a closed plastic bag (ziplock bags are perfect), to prevent the matzot from losing moisture and drying up. Leave to rest for at least an hour before using. I like to wet a whole bunch of matzot and let them sit overnight, and then I have ready-to-go wet matzah that I can use in many different ways.

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I made this quick dish two days ago when we had company for lunch, and we were looking for something light and fun that both kids and adults would enjoy. So, yes, it is Passover, and yes, that is why I came up with the idea of the matzah, but you can certainly enjoy this fun dish all year round. Even if you are not Jewish.

Ingredients:
6 wet matzot
6 sausages or hotdogs
Mustard (any kind you like)
3 eggs
Salt
Oil for frying

Preparation:
Pre-cook the sausages, either by grilling or boiling them in water. Let cool down a little.

In a shallow, wide dish, whisk the eggs with salt.

Place one matzah on a work surface. Spread some mustard on the side facing you.

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Place a sausage in the middle of the matzah, lining with the lines of the matzah, and wrap the matzah around to create a roll.

Repeat the process with the rest of the matzot. Since the matzot tend to dry and break very quickly, you need to work fast.

Heat oil in a frying pan. There should be enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan.

Dip each matzah roll in the egg wash, making sure the roll is dipped from all angles, and place in the pan to fry.

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Turn the rolls a little every 20 seconds, to get them fried on all sides. If needed, add more oil to the frying pan. Remove the rolls from the pan and place on a serving dish.

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Serve with sautéed onions and peppers, and some good wine or beer (not on Passover, lol), or enjoy it with some fresh Spring Salad.

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Beef Stew with Fresh Mint, Raisins, and Goji Berries

I bought today this nice piece of beef chuck roast, not really sure what to do with it. I thought I may make one of those all-in-a pot dishes, with rice and veggies. But as I was going in my head through the dishes I know, I got discouraged. Not that the recipes are no good. On the contrary. They are all delicious, and I will certainly make them (and post the recipes) at a different time. But they all contain carbs of some kind, which presents a problem in our house on a regular basis. As I mentioned in previous posts, Doron, my husband, refrains from carbs during the week. He only allows himself one “carbolicious” day over the weekend. If I made a large pot of stew with rice or potatoes, I would get stuck with it for the rest of the week, having to eat it almost by myself (with some help from Tamar and Amitai). So I wanted to play it safe and cook the meat separately from the carbs. This way, Doron can enjoy the meat for a few days, and I’m off the hook J

I planned on making one of my usual beef stews (red wine, mushrooms, herbs and veggies), but as I opened the fridge, I saw this huge bunch of fresh mint staring at me.

mint

It is leftover from an even larger bunch that I bought for baking the lemon mint cake at the bakery. Unlike other ingredients, I can’t save the mint for another time. So what do you do with so much fresh mint? I’ve been drinking mint tea all week, and added fresh mint to our salad every night, and yet there is still a nice amount left untouched. Usually, I would probably use it to make one of my favorite Persian stews that calls for tons of greens. But today I decided to try something new.

In Turkish, Persian, and Bukharian cuisines, you sometimes combine mint with raisins and currants, a combination that usually works well. So I decided to take this general direction, without following any specific recipes and see what comes out. I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I’ve already messed up more than once when improvising with food. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it happens I’m upset because of all the wasted food that goes in the garbage And the meat wasn’t cheap… Gabriella from Cooking Without Limits wrote a whole post about it in her blog: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/40298565/posts/1967, and it I felt like it was me writing it.

Long story short, I’ll save you the suspense, not only did my experiment worked out, but it turned out to be a great success. Phew…

So now I have a new recipe that will probably stick around. Here it is:

Beef Stew with Fresh Mint, Raisins, and Goji Berries

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2.5 lb beef chuck roast
2 cups fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons goji berries (zereshk)
3 tablespoons raisins
1tbs Ras-El-Hanut spice mix
½ teaspoon black pepper
Salt

Preparation:

Cut the meat into 1-2 inch cubes.

In a large pot heat the oil on high heat, then add the pieces of meat and seal them from all directions. Lower the heat to medium low, add the mint, goji, raisins, and spices, except for the salt.

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Cover the pot and cook for an hour. Add the salt, give the dish a stir, cover again and continue cooking for 45 minutes longer.

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Every once in a while, check to see that the stew has some liquid to cook in (not a lot). Add a little water if needed, so the stew doesn’t get burned.

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It’s so delicious! Sometimes I surprise myself 🙂

Speedy Beef Meatballs

This is yet another dish that I made in a hurry. I bought a nice amount of ground beef at Costco the other day, because I planned on making hamburgers for lunch. But if you know Costco, you must know that the amount of meat I bought was way too much for one meal (or two, or three). I didn’t want to freeze the remaining meat, so I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I also had about 3 pounds of tomatoes that I wanted to eventually turn into tomato sauce. I was in the middle of my work day and didn’t want to spend much time on cooking, so the first idea that came into mind was meatballs in tomato sauce, the speedy way.

This is what I had to work with:

Ingredients:

3 lb tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
2 ½ lb ground beef
1 cup parsley, leaves only
1 egg
2 tablespoons chicken soup powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

I rinsed the tomatoes, placed them in the food processor and crushed them into a coarse puree.

Chopped an onion and sautéed it in oil. Once it turned golden, I added a the sliced garlic. Into that I added the crushed tomatoes, sprinkled some salt and pepper, and once it all boiled, I lowered the heat and let it simmer.

In a large bowl, I combined the ground beef, egg, parsley that I chopped thinly in the food processor, onion powder, salt, pepper, and my secret ingredient – chicken soup powder. I skipped the bread crumbs because of Doron, who is completely off carbs (except for Friday night) for the past year.

Once my meat mixture was well combined, I proceeded to creating balls and placing them directly in the tomato sauce. Every once in awhile, I gave the pot a shake, to make room for more balls.

The only mistake I made was that I covered the pot with a lid once all the meatballs were in, and let it cook covered. Although I did not add any water to the pot, the sauce became somehow watery. Had I left the pot uncovered, the liquids would evaporate and the sauce would be thicker. That was easily fixed, though. I let the meatballs cook longer, this time without a lid.

Bottom line is, even though they weren’t authentic Italian meatballs, these speedy meatballs came out great. The kids ate them over spaghetti, of course. Doron and I had them with some veggies. Doesn’t my plate look gorgeous?

speedy meatballs

Beef Croquettes – Leftovers Version

Croquettes are usually made from scratch. To make it from scratch, check out my Basic Beef Croquettes recipe.

Today, however, I made them out of leftovers.

I had some leftover ground-meat filling that I made for Koube in Beet Soup, as well as the crust of some bread that I used for the Koube- Middle Eastern Dumplings.

Beef croquettes leftovers

 

Ingredients:

Eye balling the leftover meat mixture, it contained about:
½ lb ground beef
1 small diced onion
1 cup chopped parsley
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon baharat for koube
salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
1 egg
About 1 cup homemade breadcrumb

Preparation:

The leftover meat mixture already had almost all of the ingredients needed to make either croquettes or a meatloaf, but the amount of mixture wasn’t enough for a decent size meatloaf, so I decided on croquettes. All I had to add was an egg and breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs I figured I could make myself, using the leftover bread crust.

beef crockets breadcrumbs

I placed the crust in a food processor and processed it into some kind of breadcrumbs. Some of the harder pieces refused to become tiny crumbs and no matter how long I processed them, they kept their shape and size. I decided to add them to my croquette mixture, anyway, and see what happens.

The next step, which I usually try to avoid doing inside the house, was frying the croquettes. This time, since I only had a small amount of meat, I made an exception, and turned on my indoor stove. I heated some oil in a frying pan (enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan), and while it was heating up, I shaped my croquettes.

You basically take a piece of the meat mixture, the size of a ping pong ball, shape it as a ball between your hands, then press it a little to flatten it and give it an oval shape.

Beef croquettes patties

When the oil turned hot, I placed the croquettes in the pan, and fried them on medium high heat, for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until they were nicely browned.

Beef croquettes frying

I removed them from the pan and placed them on a plate covered with paper towel to absorb extra oil.

And boy, did they come out delicious!!! We finished them in less than half an hour.

Beef crockets closeup

 

Basic Beef Croquettes

Croquettes of all kinds are a staple dish in Israeli cuisine. The ingredients may vary a little – different herbs, different spices, and sometimes even different meat, but the main idea and the technique stay the same. You mix some kind of ground meat with eggs, onion, herbs, breadcrumbs, and spices. You shape that as croquettes and fry in a pan.

Basic croquettes frying

You may eat it as is, or make a sauce and cook the fried croquettes in it. Croquettes can be eaten in sandwiches, as a main dish, or as they’re usually eaten in our family, as a snack.

The following recipe is the very basic recipe. It can be eaten as is, or cooked in sauce.

Ingredients:
2 lb ground beef 10-15% fat
1 large onion diced
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped thinly
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs
Salt, black pepper
Oil for frying

Preparation:
In a large bowl, mix, or more accurately, knead all the ingredients except for the oil, until they are well combined.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil well. While the oil is heating, take a small amount of the mixture in your hands, roll it to a ball, the size of a ping pong ball, and press it gently to slightly flatten it. Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture.

Place the croquettes in the hot oil. Let them fry on one side until they brown, about 2 minutes, then turn them and fry the other side until brown. Remove the first batch of croquettes from the pan, and continue frying the other batches, until all croquettes are fried.

Place the croquettes on a plate covered with paper towel, to absorb extra fat.

Basic croquettes