Chicken Koobideh & Persian Cucumber Salad

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There are few smells that remind me of being a kid and visiting family than saffron. I remember driving to Iowa City to see my uncle and cousins and upon stepping inside their home being hit with the warming scent of saffron and rice. Then it was a tortuous waiting game until lunch was served.

If you’ve followed by blog for a while you’ll already know I’m half Iranian.¬†Growing up Iranian food wasn’t a regular thing at home, so going to my uncle’s place where they’d expertly prepare it, was always a treat. At lunch the table was jammed packed with food. Usually the spread was two entrees like kabab and joojeh kabab, rice (duh!), relishes like torshi and radishes, tadig, yogurt, and salad. We’d spend a couple hours leisurely eating and catching up on each others lives.

Now as an adult I want those memories to live on through the food. Also, I was just really craving it ūüôā This recipe is not exactly how my family would make this meal. Their koobideh is typically made with beef, and they would serve this with rice as well. I thought I would lighten it up for summer by substituting chicken for beef and pita bread for rice.

Koobideh

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Ingredients for the Koobideh:

  • 2lbs ground chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion grated
  • 2 tbsp liquid saffron*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium lime juiced

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 1 large cucumber diced and core removed
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 1 large lime juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for yogurt dip:

  • 1 pint greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sumac

Directions

Combine all the koobideh ingredients besides the lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Mix until the ingredients are equally distributed. Cover, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. In a separate small bowl stir together the olive oil and lime juice, set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and mold the ground chicken into 1″ inch thick, 1″ inch wide, 5-6″ inch long pieces. Brush the lime juice and olive oil mixture onto the koobideh. If you have left over liquid saffron you can brush that on as well to give the chicken extra color. Be careful though since saffron can stain your brush bristles. Using a spoon press into koobideh pieces to make indentations. Bake for 20 minutes, remove and reapply the olive juice lime mixture, and bake on the other side for 18¬†minutes.

To really get that char look of a grill I sear the koobideh, indentation side down, in a cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes. This is optional, but really enhances the presentation and give a nice slight char taste- if you’re into that!

To make the cucumber salad and yogurt dip mix their respective ingredients until combined. Serve with warm pita or white basmati rice.

Enjoy!

*Liquid saffron: a pinch of saffron strands soaked in 3 tbsp boiling water. Allow strands to soak for 10-15minutes.

Verde Bloody Mary

Summer is well underway and we are in the height of brunch season. And what does every good brunch menu have? A bloody mary! But this bloody mary has a twist. Instead of the traditional tomato, we’re using its zingy cousin– the tomatillo. You can make this with a shot of vodka or you can really get crazy and make a bloody beer, which you may remember from last summer.

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tbs pickle juice
  • 10 dashes green hot sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt

Using a juicer juice the tomatillos, cucumber, and jalape√Īo. If you don’t have a juicer use a blender, but strain the mixture afterwards. Now you have the base. Put the base into a shaker and add the juice of 1 lime. I don’t put the lime through the blender or juicer since you’ll get the pith which is bitter. Combine the rest of the ingredients to the shaker and add ice. Shake for 20 seconds. Strain and pour into two 12 oz glasses. Last, add either a shot of vodka or 1/3 of a beer. Serving size is 2 for bloody marys or 3 bloody beers.

Cheers!

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Lemon Poppyseed Ice Cream

Summer is officially here and I’m combining two of my favorite things– lemon and ice cream! Honestly, I am seriously obsessed with lemon desserts. I will take a lemon bar, lemon chess pie, or a lemon granita any day, and with multiple servings! There’s something about marrying the tartness of lemons with the sweetness that dessert brings, which is so mouthwatering.

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This recipe will make your mouth water also. I’m not going lie, this is a very lemon forward dessert, but it’s nothing to shy away from, since it’s incredibly refreshing. There’s just a little bit of prep, mostly zesting and juicing the lemons, before popping it into the ice cream maker, and then you’re set!

Ingredients

  • 3 large lemons
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 ounces sour cream
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 1 tsp poppyseed

Directions

Rinse and dry the lemons. Press or roll them on a cutting board to loosen the juice. Using a zester grate the skin from the lemon careful to only get the yellow peel and not the white pith- which is bitter. Put the lemon zest in a bowl and place a strainer on top. Strain the lemon juice from all the lemons into the bowl.

Add the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and vanilla to the bowl with the lemon zest and juice and mix until combined. Put into the ice cream maker and churn for 12-15 minutes. The ice cream should be pulling away from the sides and more of a soft serve consistency. Add the poppyseed and churn for 1-2 minutes more.

I moved the ice cream into another container since it’s easier to scoop that way, but you can leave it in the ice cream maker if you want. Cover the container with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent freezer burn. Then place it in the freezer for 2-3 hrs up to overnight.

Remove and serve!

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June Update

Hey everyone! I know it’s been 3 months since my last post, but I had a good excuse… I married the love of my life in May! The professional photos from our wedding photographer, Brittany Todd, are not ready yet; but, she gave us glimpse with a preview and we’re so excited to see the rest.

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The wedding was on Saturday, May 20th at Summerset Winery in Indianola. I still can’t believe I’m talking about it in the past tense! We got in engaged in November, 2015 and had spent 1.5 years planning for an event that only lasted several hours– so I still have a whiplash! ¬†We couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day: the sun came out, the vineyard was gorgeous, and we were surrounded by the love of family and friends while we read our own vows.

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Since this is a food blog, I did want to mention the celebratory beverages we had that night as well as dessert. We selected from Summerset the Vidal Blanc (crisp,dry white), Frontenac (peppery, table-red), Swenson Red (fruity, light, blush), and the Festiva (sparkling white) as wine options. And of course these craft-beer heads had to have some Exile– the Hannah and Ruthie– as the beer options. Cupcake Addict did our dessert and we had a marble cake atop a cupcake tower with chocolate volcano, raspberry almond, and lemon blueberry cupcakes.

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Now that things have settled down, I’m excited to get back to blogging and I have a BUNCH of ideas of things I want to discuss and recipes to try. Summer officially began last Wednesday so I’ll be experimenting with ice cream flavors and venturing to new breweries. The husband and I went to the Iowa Craft Beer Festival the other weekend and found new taprooms we want to visit– you can definitely expect a post in the future covering this event.

I was also thinking about posting some photos from the honeymoon if you all are interested. Being that the husband and I are alike the honeymoon was definitely food-centric. We were in Italy– how could we not eat well? So let me know!

Des Moines 2017 Restaurant “To Go” List

I know I’m a little slow on posting this considering we’re already 4 months into the year, but in my defense that just means the list is a little shorter than if I posted it earlier! This is a list of the restaurants in Des Moines I want/need to visit- a wish list. Currently I have 15 on my list and a few are a hold over from the 2016 list (shame on me).

The fianc√© and I did count all the restaurants we’ve been to in Des Moines and we’re at 95 in 2-3 years so we’re making good progress. Some of the restaurants you may be surprised are on here considering they’re all over the “top places to eat in Des Moines” articles, but that also means they can cost a pretty penny. We’re hoping we can finally get to some of these places this year and break the 100 mark!

For 2017 the restaurants are in order- not by quality, but by desire to visit. I’m only going to highlight the top 3 and list the rest (up to 10).

  1. Reed’s Hollow– The owner and head chef,¬†Zach Gutweiler, had been at Hole in the Wall on the side of Gaslamp on 15th & Grand (where Black Cat ice cream now is), and I heard great things about that little space, but never got a chance to visit before they closed! I’m not going to miss my chance again. I would order the brussels sprouts to start and the bone marrow for my main.
  2. Big Al’s BBQ– I belong to a group on Facebook called “Des Moines Food Lovers” and for about 2-3 weeks the only thing people raved about was this place! I’m not a big BBQ person, but my appreciation has grown as I’ve gotten older and after being exposed to Smokey D’s. As much as I love Smokey’s- it’s my parent’s 1st choice every time we go out to dinner- I want to see what else is out there BBQ wise! Big Al’s seems like a great start. I want to try the fried okra and the Carolina (pulled pork) sandwich.
  3. Alba– This one might be a surprise since it seems like everyone and their grandma have been here since it’s one of the Des Moines staples I mentioned earlier. Now I want go, not due to the¬†hype, but because I’ve seen the pictures and read the reviews, which have been completely complimentary. Also, their head chef- only known as Joe on their website- was nominated for the James Beard best new chef award in 2016. I would have the¬†fritters and short rib stroganoff.
  4. Angry Goldfish
  5. Table 128
  6. Nachos Tequilas
  7. Aposto
  8. Chicago Dog
  9. D’jango
  10. Barntown Brewing

Have you been to any of these restaurants? Did you like it? If so, what should I order? Also, is some place on the list not worth the trip? Let me know!

Madhouse Sours

I swear I drink other beers that are not sours. Believe it or not some people have a certain distain for sours. A friend of mine thinks it’s a disgrace to actual beer since “mankind has been refining yeast strains for a millennia and now we decide to use wild strains to undo everything we’ve worked to achieve!” But you know what? I don’t care. I love sours and now that the weather is warming up they are coming into season again.

Madhouse-FlightTo kick off spring Madhouse Brewing had a Mexican themed party and released two new sours: Paradise Found and Galaxy Haze. We got a flight of sours which had those two, but also the Black & Blue and the Satori Saison (the fifth beer was El Jefe [not a sour]). My favorite was the Paradise Found. Madhouse describes it as possessing flavors similar to a margarita and I could definitely taste the lime! Very tart and refreshing. My least favorite was the Black & Blue. The beer had this artificial candy smell to it! I spent a good time just sniffing it (probably looked like a psycho), because I could not figure out what it reminded me of. Once I tasted it I put two and two together. It tasted like a commercially made blueberry pie- the sickly sweet hyper blue filling.

There’s going to be more craft beer posts coming in the future. The market has really exploded in Iowa and our beer map with 53 breweries is already outdated. The Iowa Brewers Guild has a new map with 70 breweries listed so we really need to catch up!

Also, if you didn’t catch from my previous posts, I’m getting married in less than 2 months! But, for my bachelorette party we’re heading up to Minnesota, which was rated a top craft beer state, to see how they compare. It’s the 2017 Brew Tour- Minneapolis Edition. So get excited for that!

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

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For this being only the second week of spring it has been dark and gloomy. I understand it has to rain in order for “April showers [to] bring May flowers,” but does it have to make everything seem so sad?

I was hoping to celebrate spring outdoors instead of camping in my living room. It was nice the first couple of days cuddling up with my pug, Pickle, and reading Garlic and Sapphires, but now I want some sunshine damnit!

If there’s a sliver lining in all this it’s this soup. It’s not only flavorful and colorful, but simple to make using only a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 small white onion diced
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1.5 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of paprika for garnish

Directions

In a medium sauté pan warm the oil and add the diced onion. Cook until translucent- adding the chopped garlic towards the end. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium stock pot add the 3 cups of water and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.  Add more water if the sweet potatoes are not submerged. Once boiling reduce to medium heat and cook an additional 20-25mins.

The sweet potato should be tender at this time so remove from heat, drain, and place in a separate bowl to cool for 10mins. Once cooled, transfer to a blender or food processor and and add the onions garlic mixture, milk, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture back into the stock pot and cook on medium heat to rewarm.

When serving, top with a pinch of paprika for color. Enjoy!

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