Cake, Middle Eastern, Pastry

Persian Love Cake

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Cake

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 14 tablespoons baker’s sugar or superfine sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds (removed from about 5 green cardamom pods)

Frosting

  • 2 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 8oz of marscapone cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey

Filling

  • 2, 6 oz cups of vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of ground pistachios

PREPARATION

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line pan bottoms with parchment paper; butter parchment. Sift flour, 7 tablespoons baker’s sugar, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Whisk yolks and next 4 ingredients in small bowl until smooth. Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 7 tablespoons baker’s sugar; beat until whites resemble thick marshmallow fluff. Fold whites into batter in 3 additions. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks, peel off parchment, and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap and store at room temperature.)

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For frosting:
Combine 1/2 cup cream, honey and saffron in small saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat; let steep 20 minutes. Chill until cold.

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Beat remaining 2 cups cream, powdered sugar, and rose water in large bowl until soft peaks form; strain in saffron cream. Beat until peaks form.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread greek yogurt and ground pistachios–you will have extra, save it and top your oatmeal with it. Top with second cake layer, flat side down.

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Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Garnish cake with strawberries

 

Comfort food, Dinner, Poultry, Stew

Chicken Sausage Stew

This is a light stew for those cool rainy summer nights.  I used store bought chicken sausages along with mushrooms and roasted red peppers for some depth of flavor.  

saute mushrooms till golden brown.    

add sliced roasted red peppers ( from a jar), 1 bunch of chopped of scallions, a few springs to thyme, 2 tsp of minced garlic and 1tsp of red pepper flakes. Saute for a few minutes to marry the ingredients.  

Add water or chicken stock just enough to cover all the vegetables.  I also added a pinch of saffron for an exotic flare.  You can most certainly omit it.  

Add the cooked, sliced sausage and simmer till the stew thickens to desired thickness.  Serve warm with garlic bread !  Polenta would be a great gluten-free option for a side with this stew.  I would also consider making the stew with shrimp instead of  chicken.  Eggplant and butternut squash would be a great vegetarian alternative.

Middle Eastern, Poultry

Orange Saffron Drumsticks

  
A unique flavor spin on your typical of drumsticks.  Roast it or grill it, this will become a new staple in your recipe box.  If you are not a fan of drumsticks, try it on chicken breasts or thighs.

Ingredients:

1lb bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks

zest and juice of 1 large orange

2 tbsp of rosemary

1 tsp of red pepper flakes

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of saffron

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Marinade chicken in all the ingredients for 3hrs upto overnight.

  
Bake in a 375F oven for 45mins till cooked through.

Savor !

   

Lunch, Sides

Saffron Quinoa with Black Beans and Sage Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

1 cup tri-colored quinoa, rinsed

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 pinch of saffron

1 can of black beans

3 cups of cubed butternut squash

2 tsp of dry sage

1 tsp of chilli powder

2 tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Add rinsed quinoa to chicken broth and saffron and pinch of salt.  Cook quinoa.

Once quinoa is cooked, add rinsed black beans.

In the mean time toss squash in olive oil, salt, pepper, sage and chilli powder and spread on a cookie sheet

Roast at 400F for 20mins, till cooked through and golden.

Toss squash with quinoa and black beans and garnish with chopped scallions.

Italian, Poultry, Salad, Sides

Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

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INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lemon (preferably unwaxed), scrubbed well
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • About 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (tenderloins removed), trimmed of visible fat
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Use a fork to prick the lemon in 3 or 4 places. Place in a small saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover with water; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 50 minutes or until quite tender. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a gallon-size plastic zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal. Massage to coat; let it marinate (at room temperature) while you prep the beans.

Set up a steamer over a few inches of barely bubbling water (over medium heat). Place the beans inside; cover and steam for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender and a brighter shade of green. Cool, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces, transferring them to a mixing bowl as you work.

Grease a large skillet with cooking oil spray and place it over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken. (It’s okay if some marinade remains on the chicken; discard any remaining marinade.) Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook on the second side for 6 to 8 minutes or as needed, until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned. Cool, then cut into bite-size pieces, transferring them to the bowl of green beans.

Slice off and discard the ends of the lemon, then cut the fruit in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the flesh and pulp. Cut the remaining peel (with pith) into thin slices, then into 1/4-inch pieces, adding them to the bowl as you work. Add the thyme.

Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the honey in a liquid measuring cup, then whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to form an emulsified dressing. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the lemon-chicken mixture and toss to incorporate. Serve at room temperature.

Brunch, Cake, Dessert

Almond Saffron Cake

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Rich and exotic, this cake is bound to be a hit.  I like to pair it with Earl Grey Tea or a nice cold glass of Chardonnay !

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 (.01-ounce) jar saffron threads (a generous 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) can or 1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for topping, if desired
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup, optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add saffron and zest. Bring just to a simmer; remove from heat, and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in salt.

Beat together butter and almond paste at medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment about 3 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until fluffy, scraping down sides.

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Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating at medium speed just until blended after each addition. Add reserved milk mixture; beat just until blended. Do not overmix.

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Shake pans gently, or use a spatula to smooth tops. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and serve warm, dusted with more powdered sugar or drizzled with orange juice combined with 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, if desired.

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Fish & Seafood, Middle Eastern

Tilapia with Chermoula

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Here is dinner number two I made for my mom.  It is a new way to cook Tilapia, although the original recipe called for grilled Halibut.  However, the star of the meal is definitely the Chermoula, a middle eastern style salsa–this has changed my life ! I will be making it often and putting it on everything from fish to chicken to shrimp !!
Ingredients

Chermoula:

  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile de arbol
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 red bell peppers, grilled, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • 2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • 20 fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

For the chermoula: Combine the saffron and hot water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to bloom. Heat the canola oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Cook the ancho, coriander, cumin and chile de arbol for 1 minute. Add the saffron and its soaking water. Remove from the heat.

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Whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic-saffron mixture in a medium bowl. Mix in the bell peppers, tomatoes, mint leaves and cilantro. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Sprinkle Tilapia fillets with salt, pepper and lemon zest.  Bake at 350F till cooked through, approximately 20mins.

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Serve the fish with the chermoula.  Enjoy !

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