kookoo {vegetarian herb omelette or frittata}

kookoo

we’ve been enjoying kookoo (i know, bit of a funny name) or the persian version of  a frittata-omelette-quiche in my family ever since I can remember. when i say we, i have to admit that for years I only observed it being made (there are all kinds of variations of kookoo) and eaten by others. starting off in life as a bit of a picky eater, i eventually learned to appreciate a good kookoo (among other things) as i discovered what (real  food) eating was all about. i can still see my grandma’s skillful hands meticulously chopping the herbs, then ever so care carefully pouring the green “batter” in to the pan. herb (green) kookoo is best in the spring when all the fresh herbs it calls for are in  abundance. as i prepare my shopping list for our upcoming (persian) new year’s celebration (no rouz -spring equinox), it becomes clear that herb kookoo contains a  perfectly healthy and good for you combination of ingredients-a rarity for such deliciousness! it is a great vegetarian option, and can be served warm as a side (such as during no rouz where it is served alongside the traditional herbed rice & fish dish, sabzi polo mahi), or as an appetizer (at room temperature) served with yogurt and flat bread. i left this beautiful one whole, and served it sliced like a pie with a yogurt-cucumber-dill sauce.  it was a big hit.

 

kookoo recipe: 

finely clean and chop (herbs should be chopped finely so that they can mix well with the other ingredients) one large organic bunch (1 cup chopped) each of: 

– cilantro, flat leaf parsley, and spinach (about 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup each chopped)

– 2 bunches sliced green onions or chives.

     combine the herbs in a bowl with:

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3-4 organic eggs
  • 2-3 tbs flour  
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • a touch of cinnamon-about 1 tsp (if you like it)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbs barberries (optional)

1. heat 2-3 tbs vegetable oil in a deep skillet, then carefully pour in the egg mixture and pat it down tightly with a spatula and allow  it cook on one side on med/low heat for about 20-25 minutes (with the lid on).
2. carefully flip the kookoo with the help of a round platter (this can be tricky, but is doable-trust me), and cook the other side for another 20-25. flip the kookoo (it should be crisp on the outside) out on to a platter, and let it sit a few minutes prior to serving. you can also cut the kookoo  in to small sized squares and serve as an appetizer with a side of yogurt. 

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spinach and dry plum stew (khoresh-e-aloo esfenaj) to welcome the new season

let’s make stew: sweet & sour braised beef with spinach and dry plums

{ خورش اسفناج و آلو }

aloo esfenaj stew

for some reason i had spinach stew on my mind when i woke up this morning. this is worrisome on many levels. to be thinking of food (not of the breakfast category) first thing in the morning can be a little dangerous, particularly when you are (almost constantly) trying (notice i said t-r-y-i-n-g) to restrict and control your intake of said food (while dreaming of the elusive delicious kind that is not only good for you but completely calorie free). beyond that, i have never been a fan of spinach stew (aka khoreshe-e-aloo esfenaj), or even tasted it. the idea of it has always appealed to me, but i strictly avoided it as a kid (not exactly the perfect meal choice for a picky eater), and never really came across it much as i grew up and developed a (much needed) more advanced and sophisticated palate. i  have loved dry plums ever since i sneaked them out of my grandmother’s pantry as a kid and slowly savored their naturally sweet and sour flavor while they soaked in a corner of my mouth. nowadays, i like to soak them in a bowl of water and watch them soften and plump up to their original size. i think the bag of aloo that’s been sitting on my pantry shelf may have had a little something to do with my early morning inspiration. either way,  i’m so glad i’ve officially added this delicious stew to my favorite recipes list. not having ever cooked aloo esfenaj before, i decided to use the general method for making most persian stews, which begins by braising  your meat of choice (in this case chunks of grass fed organic stew beef) with onions and turmeric. once your meat (this will work really well with lamb or veal shanks) is nicely braised the remainder of the dish comes together surprisingly easily. i can’t believe i’ve been missing out on khoreshe-e-aloo esfenaj all these years! depending on where you live, you may have a hard time finding the dry plums which are sold in most middle eastern grocery stores. If you have to substitute, i’m pretty sure prunes (omit the sugar in this case) will work just as well.

 

braised beef (and aloo esfenaj) for 6-8:

braised beef with turmeric

  • 1 to 1.5 pounds lean organic (grass fed) stew beef (or lamb or veal shanks)
  • 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach (frozen can be used-2 pounds-defrost and drain excess water)
  • 15-20 dry plums (aloo bokhara) or prunes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs raw cane sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup avocado (or olive) oil
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbs fresh lime juice

cooking spinach

  1. in a dutch oven (or deep skillet) brown 1 onion with your meat of choice in about  3 tbs oil. add turmeric, and salt & pepper to taste. pour 1.5-2 cups water over the browned meat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour (30 minutes more for shanks) until meat is tender.
  2. in a skillet, brown the remaining onion in oil until golden brown (piaz dagh), then and add the spinach (roughly chopped) with a touch of sea salt and stir fry carefully until spinach has reduced and all the liquid is absorbed.
  3. add fried spinach and onions to the beef in the dutch oven (and prunes if using) and allow stew to simmer covered for about 45 minutes. add dry plums, sugar, and lime juice. taste and adjust seasoning. cover and simmer for another 40 minutes to an hour.
  4. serve with saffron steamed rice (leave out the spices except for saffron).

persian esfenaj aloo stew

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good morning, green smoothie!

day 8 of my cleanse…things are feeling better, and just maybe my pants are feeling a touch looser  (i can dream). the green drink i had this morning was actually so tasty it had to be shared. go ahead, try it!

  • 1 pear
  • juice of a lemon (freshly squeezed)
  • juice of an orange (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 1/4-1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 1tbs flaxseeds
  • touch of (grated)ginger
  • 6-8 organic kale leaves or a good bunch of organic spinach (softer kale leaves-or baby kale)
  • blend it all together in your blender-this is (really) good for you, and tastes pretty good too (no, really)!

 

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