Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Agave Pomegranate Tangy Sweet Bulgur Wheat







A nice bulgur wheat mezze with an interesting flavor!

     As every cook who has a taste for international cuisine knows, acquiring one of a kind ingredients is necessary to do.  Pomegranate molasses and a long list of spices are necessary to have on hand for certain Middle Eastern recipes.  Pomegranate molasses is very strong and it can take months to empty one small bottle.  Few people use pomegranate molasses on a daily basis, but many health conscious people do regularly include pomegranate products in their diet.  Traditional recipes that require pomegranate molasses do take some effort to find.  Pomegranate molasses can be adapted to other Persian and Arabic recipes that require other kinds of fruit molasses flavors.  
     While browsing the internet yesterday for traditional ways to use bulgur wheat, I ran across an interesting Lebanese recipe for bulgur wheat that was flavored with grape molasses.  The translation of the recipe name is "Sweet Bulgur."  The recipe was well written and it was one of a kind.  After looking at the recipe, I thought that making a similar recipe with pomegranate molasses would be nice.  
     I searched on the internet to see if a traditional pomegranate molasses bulgur wheat existed and found none.  This does not mean that such a recipe does not exist, it just means that there was no such recipe on the internet.  I decided to model a new pomegranate molasses bulgur wheat recipe after the "Sweet Bulgar" recipe example and keep the flavor goal within the bounds of Middle Eastern taste preferences.  Because my step grandfather was a great Syrian Lebanese chef, I learned middle eastern taste preferences at an early age.  Spiced sweet tangy flavor combinations are a recurring theme in Middle Eastern cuisine.  
     Today's bulgar wheat recipe balances the tangy pomegranate molasses flavor with sweet blue agave cactus nectar.  A few Middle Eastern spices were chosen to accent the tangy sweet flavor combination.  The result was a tangy sweet flavor that is so interesting, that it is nearly impossible to put the spoon down after one taste!  
     For those who seek interesting vegetable side dishes for holiday season dinner, Middle Eastern vegetable mezze recipes can provide plenty of ideas.  Today's Agave Pomegranate Bulgur Wheat recipe was designed to be a vegetarian mezze offering.  The flavor that is so appealing, that I thought that it would be nice to post this recipe before the holiday season begins, so viewers could give it a try.  One taste is all it takes to agree that a bowl of Agave Pomegranate Bulgur Wheat on a holiday dinner table spread would surely please the guests and it would inspire some interesting conversation! 
     
     As the viewers of this recipe website know, most of my recipes are written for one single portion.  This is done few a few good reasons:  
     
      • People who are single, do not like try a recipe that is written for 4 to 16 portions, because multiple portion recipes require doing baker's math, just to get the proportions right.  
     
     • Those who want to learn a new recipe, often find better control when cooking  a single portion example on a first attempt.  After learning the recipe on a small scale, it is easier to mentally calculate how to duplicate that recipe, when cooking more than one portion, without doing baker's math.  
     This is what is known as cooking by proportion.  This method allows adjustments to be made, because certain ingredients cannot be expanded in a recipe by doing simple math.  Logarithmic calculations are necessary for certain ingredients.  It is easier to rely on one's own senses when making a judgement call, than it is to do a precise logarithmic calculation. 
     
     • Single portion recipes make it easier to judge how much of each ingredient is necessary to purchase and how much excess raw material will be leftover, for use in future recipes.  This also helps to manage waste.  I personally waste nothing in a restaurant kitchen and I waste nothing at home.  
     For example, if 1 tablespoon of bell pepper is needed for a recipe, then cut off the top of the pepper and use the pepper top trimmings!  The rest of the bell pepper will be whole and it will be perfect for a stuffed bell pepper recipe.  This is what is called minimizing waste and controlling food cost.
     
     • A third good reason for posting single recipes is self preservation related.  This is kind of funny, but I have have gone hungry many times in restaurants and at culinary arts college, because I cooked something that really looked tasty, then senior chefs simply absconded my meal and made it their own dinner.  Chefs like to taste food that is made by a good chef and they have no regrets about stealing a meal that is cooked by a good chef when the opportunity arises.  
     A chef who confiscates a fellow chef's dinner creation, is kind of like the classic example of leaving a pie in a window to cool and the pie mysteriously disappears!  This situation stinks, because somebody ends up with nothing to eat.  Cooking food for this food website professionally at home, behind locked doors, has left me with more opportunities to taste my own food and to get my freshly cooked meal in my own belly where it belongs!     

     Agave Pomegranate Tangy Sweet Bulgur Wheat:
     This recipe yields 2 petite portions!  Keep in mind that pomegranate molasses is not sweet.
     This is not really intended to be dessert recipe.  In many cultures, a petite portion of something sweet is served as a first course or it is served early in the meal.  The early sweet offering is intended to refresh weary guests and provide the energy that is necessary for enjoying an entertaining dining experience.   
     Boil 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.   
     Add 3/4 cup of #3 size bulgur wheat.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.   
     Simmer till the bulgur starts to become tender. 
     Remove the pot from the heat. 
     Drain off any excess liquid.
     Add 3 tablespoons of blue agave nectar.  (Alien Honey!)
     Add 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unrefined raw sugar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.  (Ginger paste in a jar is really kind of a wet minced puree.) 
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek.
     Add 1 pinch of finely crushed dried mint.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 2 pinches of cardamom.
     Add 1 small pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 small pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of seville orange juice.  (Bottles of Bitter Orange are available at most food markets.)
     Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Bring the liquid to a simmer.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the liquid evaporates and the bulgur wheat becomes glazed.  The tangy sweet bulgur should be thick.  Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Do not stir excessively, or the glaze will become cloudy. 
     Keep the Agave Pomegranate Tangy Sweet Bulgur Wheat warm on a stove top or in a 135ยบ bain marie.

     Presentation:
     Place a petite portion of the Agave Pomegranate Tangy Sweet Bulgur Wheat in a shallow bowl.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of mild light olive oil over the bulgur.
     Sprinkle 4 to 6 drops of rosewater over the bulgur.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley leaf.

     Like what was mentioned earlier in this article, "One taste is all it takes!"  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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