Month: February 2010


Albanian Cornbread

Serves 6-8 The cheese and green onion make this cornbread unique. Dense and flavorful, the cornbread makes a great accompaniment to stews. Ingredients: 1-1/2 cups cornmeal 16 ounces cottage cheese 4 eggs 1 cup chopped scallions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted 1/4 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp thyme 4 ounces feta cheese, chunked 1/4 tsp salt Method: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ square casserole. 2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (cornmeal, cottage cheese, eggs, scallions, melted butter, paprika, thyme, feta, and salt. 3. Pour into prepared casserole and spread evenly. 4. Bake at 400F until lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. 5. Garnish with remaining scallions. Serve warm. NOTE: This dish was excellent warm, but dries out quickly. On 3/27/12 I adjusted the recipe for more moisture. The first time we gave the little we had leftover to the birds. After the adjustments, even leftovers were moist and yummy. Adapted from Home Cooking Around the World, by David Ricketts and Mark Thomas Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: …

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The filling sets up after properly cooling.

Leek Pie | Byrek ose Lakror

Serves 8 Byrek ose Lakror emerges from the oven with a beautiful, shining crust. Cut into the pie too soon, however, and your dreams will shatter. You must wait a full hour for the pie’s juices to redistribute. Ingredients: Leek Filling 2 large leeks, cleaned and very thinly sliced (use only the white/light green part. Thick slices and/or green parts won’t cook properly) 6 eggs 1/4 cup greek yogurt (or regular yogurt strained for 30 minutes) 1 lbs. cottage cheese, strained for 30 minutes 4 oz crumbled feta cheese 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or dried thyme, ground salt, to taste (remember, feta cheese is very salty) 1/2 tsp pepper Pie Crust 1 package puff pastry 1 egg, beaten Method: 1. Preheat oven to 400F. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except for leeks. When the mixture is smooth and blended, add diced leeks. Set aside. 3. Roll one sheet of puff pastry into a 15″ circle. Place pastry on the bottom of a 9″ pie dish. NOTE: You can also lay the puff pastry down in your pie dish …

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Tidbits about Albania

1. Businesses shut down around noon for a few hours to enjoy the main meal of the day. I could get behind this. Really, I could. 2. Dessert is not common, but oranges, apples, nuts, and berries are. The question is not if, but how my husband would murder me if I removed sweets from our home. 3. Men and women traditionally eat at separate tables. I was always a fan of the children’s table, but not so much this.  Afterall, I have opinions and they need to be heard by as many people as possible! 4. Albanians eat dinner around 8pm. I’m already in my pyjamas at 8pm. This would never work in our home. 5. Heart disease and obesity are rare due to low consumption of meat and high consumption of vegetables. Yum, vegetables! Eat more vegetables! 6. Heart disease and obesity are due to low consumption of meat and high consumption of vegetables. Repeated for my husband’s benefit. Source: Albania, Enchantment of the World, by David K. Wright Lifestyle influences diet: Historically, rural Albanians spent most of their time outdoors …

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Video & Poll: How to make Albanian Lamb in Yogurt

How do Albanians prepare their food? Who better to ask than a local… with an accent to die for. In this video a woman from central Albania prepares Tava Elbasani, Lamb in Yogurt. She literally bathes the lamb in yogurt prior to baking. The resulting gravy-custard is the most intruiging part of this dish. This Saturday I’ll give it a whirl… would you? I really want to know… Would you? Could you? In your house? Eat Tava (there’s no mouse!)?

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Menu: Albania

When the weather drops below 30, I crave hot, filling food. This last month Oklahoma saw snow, sleet, and ice, so I filled our menu with Albanian comfort food.  Mmm, I can hardly wait! Byrek ose Lakror (Leek Pie) [Recipe] Sautéed leeks and cottage cheese are the stars of this dish. Tava Elbasani (Lamb baked in yogurt) [Recipe] In central Albania lamb is traditionally baked in yogurt custard. This dish even makes mutton moist. Turli Perimesh (Vegetables with parsley) [Recipe] A distinctly mediterranean blend of tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, potato, and parsley. Albanian Cornbread [Recipe] Scallions and feta make this cornbread memorable. Llokume (Turkish Delight) [Recipe] Plan four days ahead to indulge in this delectable confection. Our recipe comes in two flavors: orange and rose.

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Green Tea

Monday Meal Review: Afghanistan

Skipping Silverware No one moved an inch. Afghan music tiptoed softly about the room. Steam rose from our plates. I knew, as hostess to our dinner party of four, I had to make the first move. Holding my breath, I dipped my fingers into the slimy eggplant and brought the food to my lips. There was a pause. “Wow. This is…. good!” I said. The tension gave way to giggles. My friends gingerly dug their fingers into their meal. I waited, searching their faces. One by one, they smiled. “Yes, this is good!” Skipping silverware is not a simple proposal. Out of consideration for my friends, I had put a few forks by their plates – “just in case”they (or Mr. Picky) weren’t game. Even after everyone began eating with their hands, the challenge remained: not making a complete mess of our plates, our hands, and our faces. Even using a napkin became confusing; our hands just got dirty again. I can’t get over how much enjoyment I got out of being so uncomfortable. The awkward experience of using my hand as silverware gave me a fresh dining experience. I kept a …

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Sabse Borani

Spinach Yogurt Dip | Sabse Borani

Both tangy and sweet, Sabse Borani is no ordinary spinach dip. The caramelized onion is this recipe’s secret to success, elevating earthy spinach and yogurt to new heights. Wonderful with homemade noni Afghani (or any fresh flatbread). (Serves 4-6) Ingredients: 1 cup frozen, chopped spinach 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 1 cup drained yogurt salt, to taste Method: 1. Drain yogurt over a small bowl for 1 hour. Use either a coffee filter in a large colander or a fine strainer by itself. 2. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Saute the onion until golden, stirring occasionally. This can take 15 minutes. Watch that your pan does not dry out and the onions burn. If you do think the pan is drying out, add a little water and/or cover. 3. Add garlic and heat until aromatic. 4. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. 5. In a small bowl, combine yogurt with spinach mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. For maximum flavor, serve cool, but not cold. Votes: 2 Rating: 4 …

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Cardamom & Rose Water Custard | Firnee

If you haven’t enjoyed rose water and cardamom before, you’re in luck! The bold flavors of this Afghan Firnee are a novel delight for the western palette. Rose water and cardamom give this creamy custard an ethereal quality, while the ground nuts add a mystifying texture. Enjoy with tea and dried apricots. (Serves 4) Ingredients: 2 1/4 cup whole milk 1 cup sugar 4 Tbsp cornstarch 1 tsp ground cardamom 1 capful rosewater 2-4 Tbsp pistachios, finely ground 12 whole pistachios for garnish Method: 1. Heat milk in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. 2. In a small cup mix cornstarch with a few tablespoons milk. Stir to create a smooth, gravy like consistency. This is called a cornstarch slurry. 3. Add cornstarch slurry, sugar, cardamom, and rose water to saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat mixture until it thickens and a few bubbles break through the surface. 4. Remove from heat and ladle into serving dishes. This recipe will fill 4 small ramekins. 5. Cover with  plastic wrap, pressing lightly onto the pudding. This prevents a skin from forming on the custard. …

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Seer Moss

Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce | Seer Moss

When allowed to sit for an hour (or best overnight), this Afghan yogurt sauce strikes the perfect balance between garlic, mint and lemon juice. Even those who generally avoid mint will be won over by this sauce, especially when served with boldly spiced rice and vegetables. Serve with braised eggplant and Kabeli Palau. (Makes 1 1/4 cups) Ingredients: 1 cup plain yogurt 3-4 cloves crushed garlic 2 Tbsp lemon juice 2 Tbsp minced fresh mint 2 Tbsp Olive Oil Method: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Let chill for at least an hour to let the flavors meld. If the mixture separates, simply stir together to recombine. Adapted from the Afghan blog, Foodie Man. Votes: 1 Rating: 5 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe When allowed to sit for an hour (or best overnight), this Afghan sauce strikes the perfect balance between garlic, mint and lemon juice. Even those who generally avoid mint will be won over by the fresh flavor, especially when served with boldly spiced rice and vegetables.Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce | Seer Moss CourseAppetizers & Snacks Lifestyle5-ingredients or less, Gluten-Free, Potluck Friendly, …

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Burani Bonjon

Spicy Braised Eggplant | Burani Bonjon

This Afghan braised eggplant dish is best served at room temperature. The cayenne gives the eggplant an enjoyable kick, while the turmeric gives it a golden glow. Serve with Seer Moss (Garlic Yogurt Sauce). Ingredients: 1 large eggplant (about 8″ long) 1/2 can diced tomatoes 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced 4-6 Tbs vegetable oil 1 Tbs dried cilantro (use fresh for garnish if you have it) 1 tsp turmeric 1/8 tsp (or up to 1 tsp) cayenne pepper (mild or death-by-cayenne) Salt & Pepper, to taste Method: 1. Slice eggplant lengthwise 1/4 inch thick. Salt liberally on both sides and lay on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet for about an hour. The salt will draw out bitterness. Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat dry. 2. Saute crushed garlic in olive oil until fragrant in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Set aside garlic in a small container. 3. Add  vegetable oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high. Add eggplant and brown, cooking in batches if necessary. The eggplant should be relatively soft when done. …

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