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Turkish Borek with Mashed Potatoes, Ground Beef and Bechamel Sauce

This recipe is a little more ambitious, but a lot of fun to make. I’ve included videos in this blog to demonstrate how to make, roll out and form the dumplings. I initially saw these dumplings being made in a video on Pinterest, but it was in Arabic. I couldn’t understand a word and didn’t even know what the dumplings were called. I posted my questions on a few facebook websites and found the dough ingredient list in broken English on the bottom of the page. I eventually found out that they were called Turkish Boreks and that the dough and fillings vary greatly by region.

The first time I made these the dough turned out great, but the filling was a little bland. So I changed it up a bit and made them again. They were delicious. That being said, you can easily change up the fillings and the spices to your own taste.

Make the dough first and then while it’s rising, make the fillings. The fillings in this recipe are ground beef with onions, mashed potato and béchamel sauce.

For the dough, mix in a large bowl ( or your stand mixer bowl if you have one), 2 cups plus 1 tbsp. flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. instant yeast, 1 tsp. baking powder and stir. Add in 1 tsp. salt, 4 tbsp. vegetable oil and 2/3 cup of warm milk. I warmed the milk for 40 seconds in the microwave. If you have a meat thermometer check the milk to make sure it is not more than 105 degrees F.

Mix until a dough forms and then either hand knead for 10-12 minutes or knead in your stand mixer with the dough hook for 6 minutes. The dough should become smooth and elastic. It should be tacky to touch, but not stick to your fingers.

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Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl and turn it around in the bowl to grease all sides of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a cold oven with the light turned on until it doubles in size, about 90 minutes. You can check to see if the dough is done by poking your finger into the dough. If the indent fills back in slowly or not at all, the dough is ready.

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Meanwhile, make your fillings.

Finely chop 1/2 onion and cook in a skillet with a little butter. Once translucent, add in the ground beef and cook until brown. Season with chopped flat leaf parsley, Ras El Hanout (optional – but I do sell this spice blend in my online store), salt and pepper.

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Peel and boil two medium sized potatoes until fork tender. Mash with Ras El Hanout (optional), salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. of butter.

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Make the béchamel sauce. Warm the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds. In a small saucepan melt together the butter and oil. Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain. Slowly add in the milk, whisking the mixture smooth in between each addition to prevent lumps from forming. Initially, the mixture will turn into a thick paste that you can brown slightly. It will thin out as more milk is added. Bring to a boil and stir for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

(Note: the videos appear like they are sideways, but they will turn right side up when you click on them)

When your dough is ready, remove it from the cold oven. Punch it down and then let it rest for 5 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax so it doesn’t spring back as much when rolling it out).

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Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece out to the size of a bread plate. Lightly dust the top of each dough circle with flour. Stack the 6 dough circles and roll out to about 15 inches wide. In the video, I rolled out to 18 inches wide, but I would recommend keeping the dough a little thicker for your first attempt at this recipe.

 

Peel the top layer of dough off of the stack. Brush lightly with a 1/2 oil – 1/2 melted butter mixture. Flip over. Place approx. 1/4 cup of mashed potato in the center of the dough. Top with 1/4 cup of ground beef. Top off with 2 tbsp. of béchamel sauce. Gather the edges of the dough in pleats. Twist like you are closing a bag and pinch closed. Allow the gathered top to fall open over the dumpling. Tuck the edges underneath. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Turkish Borek
Ingredients
For the Dough:
  • 2 cups plus 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk ensure less than 105 degrees F
Potato filling:
  • 2 medium russet potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tsp Ral el Hanount Spice Blend (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Meat filling:
  • 1/2 onion chopped fine
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1-2 tsp Ras el Hanout (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup plus 5 tbsp warm milk
  • nutmeg to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
Coating:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
Instructions

Dough:
  1. In a large mixing bowl or your stand mixer bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and instant yeast.

  2. Add in the salt, oil and mix well. 

  3. Heat the milk in the microwave for 40 seconds. Ensure it is not hotter than 105 degrees. Add to the flour mixture and combine to form a dough.

  4. Hand knead for 10-12 minutes or knead in your stand mixer, using the dough hook, for 6 minutes. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic. It should be tacky to touch, but not stick to your fingers.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl to grease all the sides of the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and then place in a cold oven with the light on.

  6. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. You can test the dough readiness by poking your finger into it. If the indentation fills back in slowly, or not at all, it's ready. (while the dough is rising you can make your fillings.)

  7. Punch down the dough. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the gluten to relax (this will make it easier to roll out).

  8. Cut the dough into 6 equal parts. Roll out each part into a circle the size of a bread plate. Lightly sprinkle flour on top of each piece.

  9. Stack the 6 circles of dough on top of each other. Roll out into a circle 15 inches wide.

Mashed Potato Filling:
  1. Peel and boil the potatoes until fork tender.

  2. Mash with butter, Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meat Filling:
  1. In a large skillet, cook the onions with a little oil until translucent.

  2. Add the ground beef and cook until brown all the way through

  3. Add the parsley, Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Bechamel Sauce:
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the flour, oil and butter. Ensure no lumps form.

  2. Slowly add in the warmed milk, a little at a time, whisking out all lumps in between each addition. At first a thick paste will form and you can brown this a little. As you keep whisking in more milk, the paste will thin out.

  3. Bring to a boil and stir for 7-8 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and mix in nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Assemble the Borek:
  1. Peel the top layer of dough off and place on the counter.

  2. Mix together the oil and butter for the coating. Brush onto the dough circle. Flip it over.

  3. Place 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes into the center of the dough.

  4. Top potatoes with 1/4 cup of ground beef mixture.

  5. Top beef with 2-3 tbsp. béchamel sauce.

  6. Gather the edges of the circle in pleats. Twist together the top like closing a bag and pinch closed.

  7. Allow the top to flop back down over the dumpling. Tuck the edges underneath the dumpling.

  8. Place on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat until all dough used.

  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

 

 

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Steak and Ale Pie

For those of you who follow this blog, you’ll know that I prefer to cook ethnic cuisine from warmer regions. The fruits, spices and nuts from those areas, combined with lamb, chicken and beef make such delicious combinations of flavors in my mouth. Orange chicken with scents of cinnamon, lamb with apricots and almonds, beef with walnuts and pomegranate, spiced onions with honey….I could go on and on (if any of those sound good, check out the cooking boxes in my shop). But now the weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing color and I’m craving a taste of home. Despite my last name, I am not Italian. I am Canadian and my family is British. So yesterday I asked my husband to build a warm fire and I made a scrumptious, steak and ale meat pie.

This pie does take some time to cook so I suggest making the filling and pastry ahead of time. Then assemble the pie about 1 1/2 hours prior to dinner time.

To make the filling first mix a little flour, sea salt and cracked black pepper in a bowl. Toss in your cubed beef and stir to coat. You can use any braising type beef, but the better the cut the better the final product! I used chuck beef and it was still a little tough when done. Next time I’m going to look for sirloin or NY striploin on sale and use that instead.

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In a large, deep skillet, brown the meat with some butter and oil on medium heat. Remove the beef to a bowl and pour 1/2 cup of brown ale into the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour out into the bowl with the meat in it. Chill in the refrigerator.

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Add a little more oil to the skillet and fry the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent and starting to brown.

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Add in the rest of the ale, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 1 hr. Stir occasionally.

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Add in the mushrooms, garlic and lemon juice. Reduce for another 1/2 hour. You want the mixture to be fairly dry. Taste and adjust seasonings (sugar, salt, pepper).

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Add the onion mixture to the bowl with the beef. Mix and chill until ready to use.

While the sauce is reducing, make your pastry.

In a large bowl mix the flour and salt.

Cut in the shortening until its in pea size pieces. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of this, but it should look crumbly.

In a 1 cup measuring cup beat 1 egg. Add the vinegar and then top off with milk until the cup is full.

Add to the flour and mix well with your hands. If the dough is a little sticky add 1-2 tbsp. more flour.

Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for a minimum of 20 minutes.

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This recipe makes a lot of dough. I roll the leftovers into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. It will be enough pastry for a pumpkin pie.

When you’re ready to assemble the pie remove the pastry dough from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take a little less than 1/2 of the dough and roll out to about 1/8″ thick. Run an icing knife under the pastry to release it from the counter. Fold in half and then into quarters.  Place in a 9 inch springform pan. Let the edges hang over the top edge and gently form the dough to the shape of the pan. Any holes or rips need to be repaired with a bit of extra dough.

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Place in the filling and smooth out flat.

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Beat one egg lightly and brush on the top and inside edge of the pastry.

Take about 1/2 of the remaining dough and roll out into a circle. Place on top of the pie and pinch the top edge closed. Cut of excess dough. Roll all excess dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

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Brush the top of the pie with the egg. Cut three large slits into the top to allow steam to escape.

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Bake for 45 minutes then remove the springform sides. Cover the top with tinfoil if it is getting too brown. Bake for an additional 15 minutes and serve.

Steak and Ale Pie
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 lbs beef cubed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 2 cups brown ale
  • 3 red onions chopped
  • 5-6 carrots chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar more to taste
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 12 oz mushroooms chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg lightly beaten for wash
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sea salt and pepper.

  2. Add the cubed beef and toss to coat (sirloin or NY striploin are best)

  3. In a large, deep skillet melt together the butter and 1/2 tbsp. oil on medium heat.

  4. Add the cubed beef and brown.

  5. Remove the beef to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of ale to the skillet and reduce heat to low. Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet and pour into bowl with beef. Refrigerate.

  6. Add the other 1/2 tbsp. oil to the skillet. Add in the chopped onions and carrots. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and starting to brown. 

  7. Add in the remaining ale, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer for 1 hour to reduce. Stir occasionally. (Now is a good time to make the pastry)

  8. Add in the mushrooms, garlic and lemon juice. Reduce for another 30 minutes. The mixture should be fairly dry.

  9. Mix into the bowl with the beef. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Filling must be cool prior to placing in the pie.)

Assemble the pie:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Take a little under 1/2 of the pastry dough and roll out on a heavily floured surface to 1/8" thick. Tip: run an icing knife under the pastry to separate it from the counter.

  3. Fold pastry in half and then into quarters and unfold in a 9 inch springform cake pan.

  4. Let the excess pastry hang over the edges of the pan and gently press down on the pastry to form it to the shape of the pan. Any holes are tears need to be repaired with excess dough or the filling will leak out.

  5. Put the filling into the pie. Brush the top and inside edge of the pie with the beaten egg.

  6. Take 1/2 of the remaining dough and roll out into a circle. Place on top of the pie. Pinch the edges closed. Cut off the excess dough and mold all remaining dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

  7. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash.

  8. Cut three slits into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.

  9. Put the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

  10. Remove the springform sides and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Place tinfoil over the top of the pie if it's becoming too brown.

  11. Serve hot.

 

Pastry dough
Ingredients
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/3 cups shortening
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • milk to fill 1 cup with egg and vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.

  2. Cut in the shortening until pea sized. It should look crumbly.

  3. In a 1 cup measuring cup beat the egg. Add in the vinegar and then top off with milk.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with your hands. If dough is sticky, add 1-2 tbsp. flour.

  5. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for a minimum of 20 minutes prior to rolling out. Freezes well.

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Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken

Haven’t made any preserved lemons yet? No worries, click on the SHOP button and buy yourself some! I’m creating an online store with the hard to find ingredients required for ethnic cooking. I’m even making box kits for Moroccan and Persian cuisines, which would make great Christmas gifts. Do yourself a favor and order some saffron too – I bought it wholesale and the low price will make up for some of your shipping costs. So stay tuned and please be patient as I struggle through the technical issues to get the store up and running.

Now – on to the cooking! This dish is delicious and arguably the most popular of Moroccan recipes. It uses preserved lemons and the spice blend Ras El Hanout. I am selling both ingredients in my online store so don’t fret. Ras El Hanout is a blend of multiple spices and herbs and each recipe is slightly different and regional. My recipe blends 21 spices and herbs and has a very slight heat to it.

This recipe is traditionally cooked in a tagine, but a large oven proof dish, such as a dutch oven works just fine.

First you are going to make a marinade for the chicken. Mix together some garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout and vegetable oil. Rub it onto 6 chicken thighs. Let it marinate in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

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Heat 1/2 tbsp. of oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Add in your marinated chicken and brown it on both sides.

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Add the onions and cook until translucent and soft.

Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cover.

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Place in a preheated, 350 degree, oven for 40 minutes.

Place the dutch oven back on the stove and remove the chicken. Set the chicken aside someplace warm (like back in your turned off oven).

Simmer and reduce broth for 10 minutes.

Rinse off one preserved lemon. Remove the flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice the peel.

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Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro to the dutch oven. Stir and heat for 1 minutes.

Serve over the chicken and enjoy!

Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ras El Hanout
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 2 large onions sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • peel from 1 preserved lemon cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix together the garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, tumeric, salt, pepper, Ras El Hanout, and 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Rub onto chicken thighs.

  2. Heat remaining 1/2 tbsp. oil in a dutch oven on medium heat.

  3. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.

  4. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  6. Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick.

  7. Bring to a boil.

  8. Cover and move the dutch oven to the oven. Cook for 40 mins.

  9. After 40 mins, remove the dutch oven and place it back on the stove.

  10. Remove the chicken and set aside.

  11. Simmer and reduce the broth for 10 minutes.

  12. Rinse one preserved lemon. Remove flesh and pith (white part) and thinly slice peel. 

  13. Add the preserved lemon peel, olives, parsley and cilantro. Stir and heat for one minute.

  14. Remove from heat and serve over the chicken.

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Pumpkin Seeds

It’s October and that means pumpkin season is here. Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin spiced cake, pumpkin pie and PUMPKIN SEEDS! Pumpkin seeds are easy to bake and add one more element of fun to pumpkin carving with your family. My kids eat these by the handful.

First, buy a pumpkin to carve with your kids (or just yourself!)

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Separate the seeds out from the pumpkin. Don’t worry if a little pumpkin in mixed in, it tastes great that way. No need to wash the seeds.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt approximately 1/2-1 tbsp. butter for every 1 cup of pumpkin seeds. Pour the melted butter into your bowl of seeds. Add salt to taste.

Spread the seeds in a single layer onto a baking sheet.

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Bake for 15 minutes then flip the seeds over. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until nicely browned and crisp.

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Pumpkin Seeds
Ingredients
  • pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2-1 tbsp melted butter for every 1 cup of seeds
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  2. Separate seeds from pumpkin. It is fine for a little pumpkin to be mixed in with the seeds. Do not wash or clean the seeds.

  3. Add 1/2-1 tbsp of melted butter for every 1 cup of seeds. Mix.

  4. Add salt to taste. Mix.

  5. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes then flip seeds over. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the seeds are nicely browned and crisp.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemons

As promised, here is how to make this Moroccan kitchen staple. I made my preserved lemons 4 weeks ago and finally was able to try them in a recipe. I have to say I was not disappointed! The bitterness was gone, but all the lemony flavor remained. These delicious lemons can be used in dishes, dressings, sauces and salads. Best of all, they are incredibly easy to make. The hardest part is waiting a month to eat them.

These lemons are essentially pickled in salt and allowed to ferment in their own juices. The whole lemon is preserved, but typically only the peel is eaten.

Use Meyer lemons. They tend to be less sour and contain more juice. Also, buy organic if you can. Wash and dry them well to remove any dirt and pesticides.

You need a pint sized glass jar and lid. Either reuse an old jar or buy one that is used for canning. Clean the jar and lid well, then boil in water for 10 minutes to ensure it is sterile. (Tip: save about 1 cup of the boiled water in case you do not have enough lemon juice to fill your jar).

Now the prep is all done and it’s time to make this delicious North African condiment.

Use coarse sea salt that does NOT have an anti-caking agent in it. Pour 1 tsp. of salt in the bottom of your sterilized jar.

Slice the tips off the top and bottom of the lemons.

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Slice into quarters, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch intact. In other words, slice only 3/4 of the way through.

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Place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside the lemon.

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Press the lemon into the jar and cover with another tbsp. of salt. Repeat until the jar is full. You want them stuffed in tightly.

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Juice the remaining lemons and add the juice to the jar. If the jar is not full, add boiled (then cooled) water to fill within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

Place on lid and invert jar several times to distribute the salt.

Leave on the counter for three days, inverting several times each day.

After three days, place in the fridge. Invert every few days.

After one month the lemons will be ready to eat.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Ingredients
  • 6 Meyer lemons
  • coarse sea salt ensure there are no additives
Instructions
  1. Clean and boil a pint sized glass jar and lid. Set aside to cool. Reserved 1 cup of the boiled water.

  2. Wash and dry the lemons to remove any dirt or pesticides.

  3. Add 1 tsp coarse sea salt to the bottom of the sterilized glass jar.

  4. Cut the tips off of the lemons.

  5. Cut lemons into quarters, but only cut 3/4 of the way through, leaving the bottom intact.

  6. Open the lemon and place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside.

  7. Press lemon into the jar. Add another 1tbsp sea salt on top. Repeat until jar is full.

  8. Juice remaining lemons and add juice to the jar. If it is not full to the top, add the reserved boiled water until within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

  9. Place sterilized lid on jar. Invert to redistribute the salt. 

  10. Leave on your kitchen counter for three days. Invert several times a day.

  11. Move jar to the fridge for a month. Invert every few days. 

  12. After a month, the lemons will be ready to eat. Only the peels are traditionally used.

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Ground Lamb Dumplings with Pistachio and Pomegranate

This recipe creates juicy and flavorful meatballs delicately displayed in wonton wrappers and baked in pomegranate juice. It can be served as a an appetizer or a main dish. It’s one of my new “favorite” recipes and is something I will definitely add to my regular repertoire.

This recipe did not end up the way I initially intended. I originally was trying to create an Italian fusion dish using the Armenian method of wrapping Manti (dumplings) with homemade dumpling wrappers and my meatball recipe. I cooked it in beef broth as per the Armenian method. It was doughy and weird (although pretty). So, I switched out the homemade dumpling pasta for premade wonton wrappers that I bought at a local Asian store. Not only was it less doughy, it was also A LOT easier. Next I switched out my meatball recipe for something with more of a Persian flare – lamb meatballs made with ground pistachios. Then I changed the beef broth out for pomegranate juice because why not? It was sure to add a little sweetness. The final creation was beyond delicious and beautiful. It was a tasty mosaic of Persian and Armenian flavors and textures.

As per usual, it’s easy to make. Just know you need about 10 minutes to wrap the dumplings. (You could easily make this without the wonton wrappers and serve as an appetizer with little wooden skewers.)

I used a shallow serving dish that was oven proof to bake the dumplings in, but any oven proof dish will work.

First you need grind your pistachios. This was easily accomplished in my small food processor. You will need 1/2 cup of ground pistachios when your done, plus some chopped ones for garnish.

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Now you need to do a little chopping. Alternatively, you could place all this in your food processor, but I like to see the individual ingredients in my meatballs so I chop by hand. You need to finely chop 1/2 an onion, then chop the herbs – cilantro, tarragon and parsley.

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In a large bowl mix the ground lamb, finely chopped onion, ground pistachios, bread crumbs, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sea salt, cumin, and egg. Mix together well using your hands. This is your meatball mix.

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Grease your oven proof dish.

Now create the open faced dumplings. Take a wonton wrapper and place a walnut sized meatball in the center. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and use it to wet the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a rectangle, but only seal the side edges leaving the top open. Then seal the outside edges of the top to form a “kayak” shaped dumpling (open in the middle so you can see the lamb meatball).

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Place the dumplings in a symmetric pattern in the greased, oven proof dish.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and drizzle 1 cup of pomegranate juice over the meatballs. Placed sliced butter evenly over dumplings. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-17 minutes (or until meatballs cooked through).

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Mix together 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1 tbsp. of lemon juice. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Garnish the dumplings with pomegranate arils and chopped pistachios. Drizzle some of the yogurt sauce overtop and put the rest on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

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Ground Lamb Dumplings with Pistachio and Pomegranate

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tarragon chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh flat parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pkg wonton wrappers
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3 tbsp sliced butter
Garnish:
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 3-4 tbsp pomegranate arils
Sauce:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Grind your pistachios in a food processor. 

  2. Chop the onion, tarragon, parsley and cilantro.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the ground lamb, pistachios, onions, herbs, lemon juice, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, sea salt, cracked black pepper, cumin and egg. This is your meatball mixture.

  4. Form walnut sized meatballs and place in the center of the wonton wrapper.

  5. Dip a finger in a bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper.

  6. Fold wrapper in half, into a rectangle.

  7. Seal sides.

  8. Seal top edges leaving the middle open to expose the meatball. The dumpling should look like a kayak.

  9. Grease your oven proof dish. A round dish is best, but any casserole dish will work. Arrange dumplings in dish in a geometric pattern.

  10. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

  11. Remove from oven and drizzle pomegranate juice over the meatballs. Top with sliced butter. Place back in the oven for another 15-17 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

  12. Mix together the sauce ingredients.

  13. Garnish dumplings with chopped pistachios, pomegranate arils. Drizzle some of the sauce overtop and save the rest for dipping.

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Pomegranate Guacamole

I love guacamole. I put it on toast, chips, sandwiches, eggs, crackers, burgers, and just eat it plain. I’ve always thought that my homemade guacamole was delicious. But then, in Arizona, a restaurant I visited had pomegranate arils in their guacamole. They added such a yummy sweet crunch that I’ve been making my guacamole with pomegranate arils since. I recently discovered frozen pomegranate arils at my local grocery store so now I can make my “new and improved” guacamole year round.

It’s simple to make. Dice 2 avocados and put into a medium sized bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp. chopped cilantro, 2-3 tbsp. finely chopped red onion, 1.5 tbsp. fresh lime juice, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Mash lightly with a spoon then add in 2 tbsp. pomegranate arils. And enjoy!

Pomegranate Guacamole
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados diced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp red onion chopped fine
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except arils into medium bowl and mash lightly with a spoon.

  2. Add pomegranate arils and mix in lightly

  3. Enjoy

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Pear Martinis

The Blue Radish just turned 1! My very first blog featured my Dad’s Mango Martini and it was wildly popular. So I thought to celebrate the first anniversary it was fitting to share his Pear Martini recipe. It’s also a great drink for hot summer evenings.

I recently returned from a trip to Canada to visit my family and my Dad served this drink with a garnish of sliced pear. They were pretty and gone in minutes. We drank them out on the deck, overlooking the lake, during a rare moment of quiet (if you know me, you know how many kids I have and why this is rare!). I have always said that good food and drinks makes good memories and this drink definitely has done that for me.

These need to be made fresh as the pear puree browns quickly. Here’s how to make them.

Peel and core 1-2 pears. Put them into a blender with a splash of pear vodka and blend into a puree (the vodka helps the pear blend down).

Add 2 tbsp. of the puree into an ice shaker with ice, a splash of sake, 3 oz pear vodka and 1 1/2 oz lychee syrup. Shake and pour into a cold martini glass. If wanted, garnish with a slice of pear.

Enjoy!

Pear Martinis
Ingredients
  • 1-2 pears peeled and cored
  • 3 oz pear vodka (Smirnoff)
  • 1 splash sake
  • 1.5 oz lychee syrup
  • 1 pear sliced for garnish
Instructions
  1. Puree the pears with a splash of the pear vodka in a blender. Make fresh when ready to serve the drinks as the puree browns quickly.

  2. Mix 2 tbsp. of the puree with ice, pear vodka, sake and lychee syrup in a martini ice shaker.

  3. Pour into cold martini glasses.

  4. Garnish with a slice of pear.

  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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The Squamish Salad Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part IV

I used to live in Squamish. It’s a small town on the Western Coast of Canada. I lovingly refer to it as “hippieville” to my North Eastern friends. Flip flops, toques (wool hats), and flowing skirts are required wardrobe there. Healthy, organic food, full of nuts and vegetables is the popular cuisine. This bowl is based off of a west coast recipe called the “Glory Bowl” which was made popular by a café in Nelson, BC. This is my east coast version of that bowl. I have replaced the tofu with chicken, the rice with quinoa, made the dressing lighter and changed up a couple of other ingredients to create a lighter, yet slightly tastier bowl.

Taking the brown rice out of the bowl also makes it quicker to prepare. I usually start by making 1 cup of quinoa (I prefer the tri-color kind) and setting it aside. Then I grate one bunch of carrots and one bunch of beets. Finally, I cube some chicken (breast or boneless thighs) and saute them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Now I can assemble the bowls.

You can make this as individual bowls or as one big salad. If making individual bowls, I use about 1/2-3/4 cup of each ingredient (except the nuts). First place the quinoa in the bottom of the bowl. Then add a layer of wild arugula, then beets, carrots, chicken and finally sprinkle the top with roasted pepitas.

Now to make the dressing (which is the best part in my opinion). Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined (about 90 seconds). (Nutritional yeast flavoring/flakes can be found at most upscale grocery stores such as King’s or Whole Foods.) Drizzle lots of dressing over each bowl (or onto your big salad). Use it all, you won’t be disappointed.

This bowl makes a perfect lunch on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

The Squamish Salad Bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried quinoa prepare according to package directions
  • 1 small bunch carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 small bunch beets peeled and grated
  • 3-4 cups wild arugula
  • 4 chicken breasts or deboned thighs cubed
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas
Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast flavoring/flakes
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Set aside. (I like to use tri-color quinoa because it looks pretty).

  2. Peel and grate the beets and carrots.

  3. Cube the chicken and saute in olive oil until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. If doing individal bowls use approx. 1/2-3/4 cup of each ingredient. Layer in the following order: quinoa, wild arugula, beets, carrots, chicken. 

  5. Sprinkle roasted pepitas on top.

Dressing:
  1. Place all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. (About 90 seconds).

  2. Drizzle dressing overtop of bowls.

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Simple Strawberries and Cream Layer Cake

Are you in charge of dessert for a Memorial Day barbeque? This cake is made with a box cake mix, strawberries and a secret whipped cream to hold it all together. This cake is fast, delicious, and for the beginner baker. Visually stunning and soft as a pillow, this cake will have your friends and family begging for more.

The secret is in the whipped cream. You need to use “stabilized” whipped cream so that it doesn’t lose its shape and volume over time. I have previously used gelatin to stabilize my whipped cream, but I recently discovered a secret that is much easier. Just add a little cream cheese (no, you can’t taste it) to your whipped cream and it will hold its shape for a week. Yes, a WEEK!

I developed this cake for the beginner baker or those too busy to spend much time on making a dessert. It does, however, look and taste like you spent all day on it. I used a Betty Crocker White Cake box mix, but any white cake mix will do. I made the cake in two 8 inch circular cake pans. I prepared the pans by spraying them with cooking spray and then dusting with a coating of flour. To achieve this, after applying the cooking spray, place a small amount of flour into the pan. Tap the flour around until the bottom and sides are covered. Then tap out any excess flour.

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The box cake mix makes about 4 cups batter, so pour 2 cups into each pan (or make one cake after the other if you only have one pan). Cool the cakes completely on a wire cooling rack.

Slice the bottoms off of about 2 lbs of strawberries. Set aside.

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Now to make the stabilized whipped cream. In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with a handheld mixer.

In a second bowl, beat the heavy cream until it starts to form soft peaks. Add the cream cheese mixture and continue to beat with the handheld mixer until stiff peaks form. You can lightly fold in 3-4 tbsp of strawberry jam to create a “streaked” look or simply leave the whipped cream plain.

Scoop the whipped cream into a Ziploc bag and cut off the corner to create a piping bag.

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Now assemble the cake. Carefully cut the domes off the tops of the cakes so that they are level.

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Put the first cake, cut side up, onto your cake stand. Top with a thin layer of whipped cream and then apply a layer of whole strawberries, cut side down.

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Pipe a generous amount of whipped cream between the strawberries, including the ones on the outermost layer.

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Put the second cake on top, cut side down and press lightly to level.

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Put a light layer of whipped cream on top and decorate with the piped whipped cream and remaining strawberries. I did little pillows around the edge, then an inner ring of strawberries and a large pillow of whipped cream in the center. But be creative with your design!

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Chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

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Simple Strawberries and Cream Layer Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 box white cake mix I used Betty Crocker and used egg whites only
  • 2 lb whole fresh strawberries
  • 8 oz soft cream cheese room temp is best
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam optional
Instructions
  1. Make the white cake mix according to box directions in two 8 inch circular cake pans. If you only have one pan, make one cake after the other. (You should have about 2 cups batter per pan) Prepare the cake pans by spraying with cooking spray and dusting with flour. Cool on wire cooling rack.

  2. Once cooled, cut the tops off the cakes to make them level.

  3. Cut the bottoms off the strawberries and set aside.

  4. In a small bowl, whip together the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with a handheld mixer.

  5. In a second bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

  6. Add the cream cheese mixture to the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form.

  7. Optional: lightly fold in 3-4 tbsp of strawberry jam to form pretty streaks (don't mix in too much or the streaks with disappear).
  8. Scoop the whipped cream into a ziplock bag and cut off a bottom corner to create a piping bag.

  9. Assemble your cake: Put the first cake, cut side up, onto your cake stand.

  10. Apply a thin layer of whipped cream onto the cake.

  11. Place the strawberries, cut side down, onto the cake. Make an outer ring first and then fill in the rest of the space as tightly as you can.

  12. Pipe the whipped cream in between the strawberries, including the outer ring.

  13. Put the second cake on top of the strawberries, cut side down, and press lightly to level.

  14. Apply a thin layer of whipped cream to the top of the cake.

  15. Decorate with piped cream and strawberries to your taste. I did an outer ring of small cream pillows, then an inner ring of strawberries and a center pillow of whipped cream.

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The Moroccan Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part III.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will have noticed that I enjoy spices. Particularly, the spices used in Indian, Moroccan and Persian cooking. Since I have already given you an Indian bowl, here’s a Moroccan one! (I promise the next bowl will have more of a salad vibe).

I recently saw an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, (yes, I’m addicted), where one of the housewives served a Moroccan stew for dinner. It looked delicious. I searched the internet for a similar recipe and found something that looked close on Pinterest. I have changed it up to add a bit of spice and heat. I’ve also put in the option of adding chicken as it is a very light lunch bowl. Finally, I added some raisins and a pecan garnish for some texture variety. I hope you like it as much as I do!

This recipe uses onions, garlic, ginger, garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, butternut squash, red lentils and bell pepper with an abundance of yummy spices. It is paired up with quinoa (I like tri color quinoa because it’s pretty), wild arugula and greek yogurt.

It’s ridiculously easy to make. If you’re adding chicken, I recommend cooking it first in a skillet with a little olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Use bite size pieces to make it easier to eat.

Dice a yellow onion and mince three garlic cloves. Add these with a little olive oil to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for 60-90 minutes (or until squash is fork tender and lentils soft).

Using a deep bowl, fill 1/3 with the cooked quinoa, 1/3 with the stew, and 1/3 with wild arugula. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt and sprinkle on some chopped pecans. Serve with a piece of naan (optional).

The Moroccan Bowl
Ingredients
The Stew:
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 14 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (fresh)
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 medium breasts chicken cut into bite sized pieces (optional)
Serve with:
  • 1 cup quinoa (I like tri-color) prepared according to package directions
  • 4 cups wild arugula
  • greek yogurt
  • chopped pecans for garnish
  • small piece of naan optional
Instructions
  1. If using chicken, precook in a medium skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan (or soup pot). Add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

  3. Add remaining stew ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 60-90 minutes or until squash fork tender and lentils soft.
  4. Fill bowl 1/3 with cooked quinoa, 1/3 wild arugula and 1/3 stew.

  5. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt and garnish with chopped pecans.

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Crispy Brussel Sprouts Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part II

I recently took a trip to sunny Arizona. There, I enjoyed some real, authentic Mexican food. I also enjoyed some fusion Mexican food – or Mexican with a TWIST. One such dish was Brussel sprout nachos. I NEVER would have put those two things together. It was served with a bright pink beet crema and a fried egg. The colors definitely popped. I liked the nachos, but it got me thinking about a healthier version of the dish. This bowl is inspired by these strange, yet delicious, nachos from Diego Pops.

To be honest, I can’t recall all the ingredients on the Brussel sprout nachos. However, I think there may have been some picked onions on them. Pickled onions and cabbage are very popular in tacos right now. So I’ve added some picked red onions into my bowl. These need to be made at least an hour in advance, but will keep in the fridge for several days.

To make the onions, mix together the apple cider, sugar, salt, and water. Add one sliced red onion and cover. Chill.

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Take one pound of Brussel sprouts and cut the bottoms off and remove any dead outer leaves. Slice them lengthwise. Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking tray.

 

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Peel one small beet (or 1/2 of a large beet) and cut into chunks. Add the cut beet and two garlic cloves to the leftover olive oil/salt/pepper mixture in the bowl you removed the Brussel sprouts from. Toss to coat. Wrap up in aluminum foil and place on the baking tray.

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Bake for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Shake the tray a couple of times to prevent the sprouts from burning. They should be dark brown and blackened in areas when done.

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While the Brussel sprouts are roasting, prepare your wheat bulgur. Alternatively, this bowl could be made with quinoa or brown rice.

Once cooked, mash together the garlic and beets with a fork. Mix with 1 cup of your favorite ranch dressing a puree together in a blender. Run the blender until you can no longer see bits of beets in the dressing (about 3 minutes).

Quickly fry up an egg for each bowl you are making.

Assemble the bowls. Use the bulgur as a base and gently place the egg on top. Using a fork remove a few rings of onion from the vinegar solution and place on top of the egg. Add the roasted Brussel sprouts and drizzle the dressing on top.

Crispy Brussel Sprout Bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 small beet
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup wheat bulgur prepared according to package directions. May sub quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 egg per bowl
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
Instructions
  1. You need to make the pickled onions at least one hour in advance. Mix together the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Add the sliced red onion. Cover and chill. (These will stay good for several days in the fridge).
  2. Wash the Brussel sprouts. Remove any dead outer leaves and cut the bottoms off. Slice lengthwise.

  3. Place Brussel sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over top. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coast. Remove sprout to a baking tray.

  4. Peel and chop beet into chunks. Place chopped beet and garlic cloves in the bowl with the olive oil/salt/pepper. Toss to coat. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on the baking sheet with the sprouts

  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until Brussel sprouts brown and blackened in areas. Shake the tray a couple of times while baking to prevent burning. (Now is a good time to make your bulgur).

  6. Mash the beet and garlic cloves together. Place in a blender with ranch dressing and blend using highest setting until no beet pieces are visible (about 3 minutes).

  7. Fry one egg per bowl.

  8. To assemble the bowls: Place a large scoop of bulgur in the bottom of the bowl. Gently add the egg on top. Remove with a fork several slices of pickled onion and place on top of egg. Add Brussel sprouts and drizzle dressing on top. Enjoy!

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The Butter Chicken Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part I.

This blog is the first in a series of scrumptious lunch bowls that are both visually stunning and tasty. “Bowls” have become popular of late, but they are usually made with Acai and other berries. Presentation is a key ingredient when making a bowl and I’ll show you how simple this is.

I haven’t posted a blog in awhile. Life just got…busy. So to make it up to you I’m including three recipes in this post. They all go together or can be used separately. I’m going to show you how to make butter chicken, Indian rice, and a mango chutney (Indian style). Of course, this bowl can be made with plain rice and without the chutney. It will still taste delicious.

Butter chicken was the first Indian dish I tasted. It has no heat so it tends to be liked by everyone. (Of course, you can add a little chili pepper if you want). After my first taste of Indian food I was in love and it continues to be my favorite kind of ethnic food today.

The Butter Chicken:

Melt the butter in a deep skillet and saute the onions until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala and fry the spices for another minute to release their flavors.

Add the chicken to the skillet and brown. Then add the diced tomatoes, sauce and almond meal. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. (This is when you should start making the rice).

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Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve with the rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and mango chutney.

The Indian Rice:

This is so easy and enhances the flavor of the dish.

Rinse the rice three times to reduce the amount of starch.

Boil the water with the cumin seeds and whole green cardamom pods. Once boiling, add the basmati rice, stir and return to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the water will be completely absorbed and the cardamoms will be on top of the rice. Remove them with a spoon.

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Fluff the rice with a fork.

The Mango Chutney:

This can be made up to a week in advance. It’s also great with samosas.

In a saucepan mix together the vinegar, golden raisins, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt and onion. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the mango and water and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. I then mash the mango a bit with a potato masher to get the desired consistency.

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Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The Presentation:

In a deep bowl spoon the rice into one side and pat down.

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Into the other side of the bowl spoon in the butter chicken.

Add a dollop of mango chutney on top of the rice.

Garnish with the cilantro.

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Butter Chicken
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger grated
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp almond meal/ground almonds
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat melt the butter.

  2. Add the onion to the skillet and saute until translucent.

  3. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and saute for one minute.

  4. Add the tumeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, and garam masala to the skillet and fry for 1 minute to release the flavors.

  5. Add the chicken and brown.

  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and ground almond meal.

  7. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

  8. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt.

  9. Serve with basmati rice (see Indian Rice recipe) and garnish with cilantro and mango chutney.

Indian Rice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice three times to remove the excess starch.

  2. In a medium saucepan, boil the water with the cardamom and cumin seeds.

  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir. Return to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the cardamom pods from the top of the rice.

  6. Fluff with fork and serve.

Mango Chutney (Indian Style)
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups mango fresh or frozen. Cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan mix together the onion, brown sugar, raisins, vinegar, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin and salt.

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

  3. Add the mango and water. Continue to simmer and stir for an additional 10 minutes.

  4. Mash the mango with a fork or potato masher to your desired consistency.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Sky High Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits taste like soft and buttery clouds. This post will explain all the tips, tricks and techniques to get that “perfectly” fluffy, sky high, buttermilk biscuit.

The first key to making biscuits is to have the right flour. Believe it or not, flour differs greatly from region to region. Ever try to follow a baking recipe and have it come out crumbly or tough? This is often the reason why. So do yourself a favor and order a flour from the south where biscuits are the main reason for buying it. It is much softer than the flour sold in the Northeast. I use “White Lily self rising flour” and I bought it for a reasonable price on amazon. (If you substitute in another flour, make sure it says “self rising”.)

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Now get a good quality buttermilk. Yes, you can add lemon juice or vinegar to your milk to make your own. Just remember that the quality of your ingredients affects the quality of the biscuit.

On that note, butter is not all the same either. Try to find a European style butter like Plugra or Kerry Gold. They are sold at most grocery stores. Trust me, you’ll never go back to baking with anything else.

Okay, now that we have discussed the ingredients, let’s talk technique.

You want your biscuit dough to remain as cold as possible. Freeze your butter and then grate it. This will prevent it from fully incorporating into your dough and give you layers.

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Now you’re ready to start. Mix together the flour and butter. Add the buttermilk in four stages and mix in with a fork being careful not to overwork the dough (you are trying to keep the butter from melting into the dough).

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Form the dough into a ball, turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Now you are going to fold it a few time to help create more layers.

Fold over the top 1/3 of the dough into the center.

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Fold the bottom of the dough completely over the first fold.

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Fold over 1/3 of the dough from the left.

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Fold the right side completely over the left fold.

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Roll out again and repeat the folds. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Make sure the dough is not thinner than 1/2 inch or you won’t get “sky high” biscuits.

Using a sharp edged cookie cutter or jar lid, cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter. Twisting seals the edges of the biscuit shut, preventing rising. Alternatively, cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on a non greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 475 degrees. Some experts say to have the biscuits touching each other so that each biscuit can climb up the sides of the adjacent one as they rise.  I haven’t found that this makes a significant difference, but go ahead and try it.

Now for the final tip that will have your family begging for more! Melt together 1 tbsp. of honey with 1 tbsp. of butter. Brush this mixture onto the top of the biscuits when you remove them from the oven. Your family will think you are a biscuit magician. Enjoy!

Sky high Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 3 cups White Lily self rising flour
  • 3/4 cup butter (European style) frozen and grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
For brushing on top of baked biscuits:
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Freeze and grate your butter.

  3. Mix butter together with flour in a large bowl.

  4. Add buttermilk in four stages. Lightly mix in with a fork, being careful not to overwork the dough.

  5. Form into a ball and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface.

  6. Fold top 1/3 of dough down to center.

  7. Fold bottom of dough overtop of the first fold.

  8. Fold 1/3 of dough on the left side into the center.

  9. Fold right side of dough completely overtop of the left fold.


  10. Roll out and repeat folds.


  11. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness - NO thinner or your biscuits will come out flat.

  12. Using a sharp cookie cutter or jar lid cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter (twisting would seal down the edges of the biscuit, preventing rising).

  13. Place on an ungreased baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes. Some say that having the biscuits touching aids rising.

  14. Melt together 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp. butter. Brush on top of biscuits after removing them from the oven.

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Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Orange

This is not technically a true Irish Soda Bread. Soda bread is traditionally made with only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and sour milk (buttermilk). Baking Soda was introduced to Ireland in the 1840’s as a means to make bread, but soda was actually first used to leaven bread in America by the American Indians. However, the nature of poverty in Ireland made this bread popular and cheap and it became historically associated with that country. The practice of cutting a cross into the top of the bread was believed to ward off evil.

While traditional Irish bread is flavorful and still made and eaten today, I wanted a sweet breakfast bread to eat with my morning coffee so I added a few twists.

This bread is easy and fast to make, unlike yeast breads. No expertise is required!

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

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Cut in the butter (make sure it’s cold) with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Stir in the raisins.

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In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, baking soda and orange zest.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with a fork. Mix until just moistened.

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Form a ball with the dough, using your hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Form an 8-10 inch dome.

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Brush egg whites on top, then generously sprinkle with sugar.

Cut a 1/4 inch deep cross into the bread.

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Bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Slice or pull apart. Serve with butter and jams.

Enjoy!

Orange-Raisin Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cold butter
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 egg white for brushing on top
  • 2 tbsp sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.

  3. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender until it becomes crumbly.

  4. Stir in raisins.

  5. In a separate bowl, combine the whole egg, buttermilk, baking soda and orange zest.

  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork until moistened.

  7. Using your hands form the dough into a ball and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

  8. Form an 8-10 inch dome and brush the top with the egg white. Generously sprinkle sugar on top.

  9. Cut a 1/4 inch deep cross into the top of the dough.

  10. Bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.