clay pot chicken and vegetables with brown rice

i’ve been obsessed with clay pot cooking (more like eating) ever since i took my first bite of clay pot chicken at the corner vietnamese restaurant during my freshman year in college. whenever my friends and i wanted to treat ourselves to a good meal away from the cafeteria (which was quite often, come to think of it), we headed there and ordered the deliciously fragrant dish before we even looked at the menu. i had never tasted vietnamese food before moving to California, and this delicate combination of flavors and textures was a wonderfully welcome surprise to my taste buds- as i remember it (unfortunately the restaurant is no longer there), the dish combined an assortment of mushrooms, fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, spicy peppers, and cilantro with fragrant jasmine rice and tender chicken. these ingredients were slowly steamed together in a small clay pot to create an intoxicating combination of aroma and flavor. it could have been that we were simply hungry students with cafeteria food as our other option, or perhaps it tasted as delicately delicious as i remember it. when i came across a blue clay pot at the store a few days ago, i had no choice but to bring it home, and today i made my very own version of clay pot chicken with brown rice flavored with kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk. The resulting dish was good enough to share:)
ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 cup brown rice, parboiled 
  • (cooked until just tender with 2 cups of water for about 20-25 minutes until water is absorbed)
  • 2 organic chicken breasts, cubed * for vegetarian option omit chicken and reduce baking time to 30 minutes-you may also substitute chicken with sprouted organic cubed tofu)*
  • 2 small red bell peppers, cubed
  • 10-12 mushrooms, cubed
  • 1 small onion, cubed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-1 cup light coconut milk
  • 3-4 tbs soy sauce *(braggs aminos for gluten free)
  • 1 sliver fresh ginger, thinly sliced or minced (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3-4 thai peppers, thinly sliced (spicy)
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 5-10 baby roma or cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)
1. in a small wok or medium sauce pan quickly stir fry together with the heated oil (combination of both oils) on high heat: minced garlic, onions, red peppers, mushrooms, peas, ginger, and sliced thai peppers until tender for about 5 minutes. add the lime leaves and most of the soy sauce and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
2. add par boiled (almost cooked) brown rice to the clay pot (or dutch oven), then add the cooked vegetable mixture and mix well with the rice.

3. add the cubed uncooked chicken to the rice and vegetables and combine to distribute evenly, then pour the coconut milk and remaining soy sauce with a touch of sesame oil over the rice and chicken combination. stir everything together carefully, then cover firmly.

4. bake in a 350-375 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes. you won’t believe the aroma when you remove the lid! carefully remove the lime leaves and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and sliced tomatoes before serving.

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my noosi’s dill herbed rice {شوید پلو} with black-eyed peas {loobia cheshm bolboli}: shevid polow

 

persian style dill herbed rice with blackened peasas soon as i saw the beautifully green bunches of fresh dill at the market i knew what i wanted (or almost had) to make with them. dill-herbed rice, or shevid-polow as we call it in farsi. dill is one of my absolute favorite herbs i can never resist buying when it is in season looking all fresh and darkish green and beautiful. i love the scent it creates and leaves in my kitchen as i chop it, and the slightly different aroma that surrounds me as it steams away with the basmati rice. [talking

black eyed peas and rice

about scents and aromas reminds me of a side note: this post on the lovely perfume blog kafkaesque references mine on baghali polow, another dish loaded with fresh dill]. as with most my food obsessions, i first fell in love with dill in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tehran-it seems to me she was always chopping herbs-or maybe i was so often around when she did, because i loved watching (and smelling) her doing it so much. it was the way she bunched them tightly together with one hand while gracefully slicing them ever so thinly with the other. she was a true expert with the knife. and so many other things. thinking back on it, hers was not a sophisticated kitchen with many fancy gadgets-but trust me when i tell you some serious magic happened there. and boy was i lucky to be a small part of it as taster/assistant/taster/observer/taster in chief.

finely chopped dill even though i didn’t fully realize it then, she was constantly, indirectly, and deliberately teaching me things every time i was with her.  i can hear her voice in my head: sharing, reminding, cautioning, praising, cautioning some more. one of the dishes she taught me was shevid polow layered with her favorite beans: black-eyed peas, or “cheshm bolboli” (translates to parrot eyes for obvious reasons). It is the type of absolutely delicious nourishing dish that reminds you of all good things and fills you with pure (stomach) contentment. well worth the work and the wait.

how to make shevid polow  {for 4-6}:

  • making persian rice with herbs2-2.5 cups finely chopped fresh dill (remove the thicker stalks, wash, allow dill to dry, then chop)
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice, washed several times in water until it runs clear
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dry rose petals (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron
  • 1-1.5  cups black-eyed peas, cooked (soak overnight and cook until just tender)
  • sea salt to taste (and for boiling the rice)

persian steamed rice with herbs

    1. bring a big pot (non stick) of salted water to boil (about 6-8 cups). add washed and drained basmati rice. allow it to come to a rolling boil and  keep the heat on high for about 7-9 minutes. turn off the heat and drain the rice in a mesh colander. wash with cold water and allow it to drain. also see this recipe for inspiration.
    2. add about 3-4 tbs of vegetable oil, 2-3 tsp of water and 1/2 of the ground saffron (or 4-6 saffron strands seeped in hot water) to the nonstick pan. heat together for 1-2 minutes on high. remove from heat and add a thin layer of rice, followed by a generous layer of dill and black-eyed peas (see pictures above). sprinkle evenly and lightly with cumin seeds, sea salt to taste, and cinnamon. (with your hands or a spatula) carefully combine everything together as you go.
    3. repeat this process until your ingredients are used and you have created a “dome” or pyramid of layers. top with remaining saffron and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, cumin seeds, and rose petals. drizzle with another 3-4 tbs of oil (using a slotted spatula to evenly distribute) and about 1/4 cup of water.
    4. cover the pot first with a paper towel or clean dishtowel and then tightly with the lid. Heat the pot on high for about 8-10 minutes (stay close to the pot)-this will help create the favorite crispy rice (tag-deeg) at the bottom of the pot. reduce the heat after 10 minutes (at most) to med/low and allow the rice to steam for another 45 minutes to an hour. serve with saffron braised chicken, veal or lamb shanks and a shirazi salad (tomatoes, persian cucumbers, green onions, mint, lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & pepper).

shevid polow tahdeeg

 

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Ash-e-mash: a thick and hearty mung bean soup with turnips & herbs

happy new year! it’s hard to believe the holidays are over, and we’ve already welcomed 2013 into our lives. i took a few vacation days away from home and the kitchen (surprisingly easy to do), and found myself thinking about all the food i had cooked (and eaten) in 2012-have you ever thought about how many meals you’ve made in a year? i certainly c-o-o-k-e-d a lot in the last 365 days (what i’d call a good/food year)! here’s to a new year of cooking, sharing, eating, and exploring good~food together
this ash-e-mash is the last meal (other than a simple spaghetti al limone) i cooked (a huge pot of) last year. it is the perfect hearty (and healthy: mung bean health benefitssoup-as-a-meal for the winter months (it’s even cold in san diego now)- – – – >let’s start cooking!
ingredient for 6-8 servings:
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed turnips
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dry mung beans
  • 1/4-1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (or about 10-12)
  • 2 large bunches fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)
  • 1.5 cups fresh (roughly chopped or whole baby ones) spinach
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • sea salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cups (or more) good chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tbs vegetable oil (olive oil or virgin unrefined coconut oil)
  • 2 tsp dry mint

1. thinly slice the onion, then fry in the oil with the turmeric in a deep heavy pot or dutch oven. as the onions become golden (about 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat) add the minced garlic and fry for just another minute or two before adding the mung beans.
2. stir the mung beans into the onion mixture, fry for a minute or two, then add the rice and turnips with sea salt and pepper (to taste) and 1 cup of water, along with 3-4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. reduce the heat and allow the mung beans and rice to cook (slow simmer) for 35-45 minutes. add more water or broth if necessary.

continued>>>>

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thanksgiving: images, inspiration, & recipes from years past

thanksgiving recipesthanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. it is the first one my family embraced when we moved to america so many years ago, and we have celebrated it every year since by preparing and enjoying a delicious feast together. i’m pretty sure we enjoy the days of planning and cooking more than the eating which always seem to go by in a flash. we each have our favorites, and although we keep the traditional components constant, we change up the menu by trying new recipes for stuffings and sides. my husband likes a more traditional stuffing with an almost overload of sage, and my mom likes a chestnut stuffing i learned from my friend claire years ago (approximate recipe to follow). the kids all like lots of smooth mashed potatoes (see recipe) with little pools of gravy. i haven’t changed the way i roast my turkey (free range organic) ever since i discovered martha stewart’s recipe (perfect roast turkey 101) about eight years ago, and it turns out perfectly every time. so yes, i highly recommend you look it up, and follow the relatively simple instructions. and buy butter-lots and lots of it….it’s thanksgiving!!! i had not started this blog last year at this time, but here you’ll find a few random pictures and recipes from years past that might come handy. no matter what we add or subtract from the menu, we always roast (mostly root) vegetables because they are light, delicious, and easy to make {see recipe-or this one.} thanksgiving is the time to be grateful for the many blessings we have in our lives~a happy, healthy, and delicious thanksgiving to you and yours!
roast vegetables: just out of the oven: parsnips, fennel, & squash with fresh thyme
for foolproof turkey roasting:  martha stewart’s perfect turkey 101 recipe is my favorite

ready for the oven: parsnips, leeks, and turnips

creamed onions: boil peeled baby onions in water or good chicken broth until just tender. drain, then add sea salt & pepper to taste with a touch of thyme and cover with cream. simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the cream has thickened.

a new salad for this year: minted persimmon pomegranate salad with feta cheese
(recipe here)
continued (lots more goodies, click on read more)>>
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