Monday, April 30, 2012

Shish Barak

Lebanese meat stuffed dumplings stewed in yogurt sauce!

     Lebanese Shish Barak is a traditional springtime entree.  Spring is the season of newborn goats and it is the season of fresh goats milk.  Along with the spring season's goats milk harvest comes the making of fresh goats milk yogurt!
     Goats milk yogurt is very healthy and it is fat free.  The flavor is tangy and interesting tasting like French fresh Chevre goats milk cheese.  I do specify goats milk recipes in most of my middle eastern recipes and there is a reason why.  Cows milk yogurt has a different flavor profile.  The tangy flavor of goats milk yogurt is much more refreshing!
     The meat stuffing can be made with lamb or beef.  Many chefs think that every Arabic or Persian meat recipe is only made with lamb for some unknown reason.  Maybe it is just a stereotype that comes from watching too much television.  I never watch television, because I like to experience and learn from real life.
     Beef is the choice meat in most middle eastern cuisine.  A very classy Las Vegas fine dining restaurant named Habib's Persian Cuisine features filet mignon and beef tenderloin in nearly all of their meat entrees.  I posted a review of Habib's Persian Cuisine a few months ago and I described the beefy Persian menu!  Only a few lamb entrees were on the menu at Habib's.  That is really how the cuisine is in the middle east.  Lamb plays second fiddle to beef!
     By the way, spring lamb season starts in June.  June?  Yes, I know that sounds strange, but that is the truth.  Any lamb that you purchase at northern hemisphere markets was either frozen since last year, or it came from southern hemisphere sheep farm regions like Australia or New Zealand.  The rules of what really is true lamb are very strict in the northern hemisphere and it is best to do some research and be informed, before making a lamb purchase.  The more you know, the better lamb purchase will be!
     Note:  This recipe makes one portion of 12 dumplings.  When making the stewing sauce for this recipe, it is important to cook the sauce at a low temperature.  Even though the stewing sauce has a thickening agent, too high of a heat will cause the sauce to separate and break!

     Shish Barak Meat Stuffing Recipe:
     Lamb or beef can be used for the dumpling stuffing!
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoon of finely chopped onion.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Saute till the onions just start to turn a clear color.
     Add 3 1/2 ounces of lean ground beef.  (Lamb is optional.)
     Saute and break up any clumps of ground beef.
     Add sea salt.
     Note:  The following list of spices in this recipe is known as Lebanese 7 Spice mix!
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground clove.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 1/2 pinches of coriander.
     Cook the stuffing mixture, till the ground beef is fully cooked and till it is lightly browned.
     Set the beef stuffing aside.

     Shish Barak Unleavened Dumpling Dough Recipe:
     Place 1 cup of plain bread flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, while stirring, till the dough starts to rice and form pea size dough shapes.
     Start kneading with fingertips and add a few drops of water at a time, till a medium soft dough texture is formed.
     Roll the dough into a ball shape and gently knead by hand, till it becomes pliable and smooth.
     Press the dough between the hands, to flatten the dough into a flat circular shape.
     Place the flattened dough on a lightly floured counter top.
     Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a round 3/16" thick sheet.
     Use a 2 1/4" to 2 1/2" wide ring mold to cut several dough circles.
     Re-roll the dough and finish cutting dough circles, till a total of 12 are made.

     Shish Barak Dumplings Recipe:
     Stuff each dumpling one at a time!  The dumplings should not look like they were factory made.  They should each look like they were hand made and each one should have character!
     Gently stretch each dumpling dough circle just about 1/4 inch wider with fingertips.
     Hold the flat stretched dough circle in the palm of the hand.
     Place about 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons of the meat stuffing on the center of the dough circle.
     Pull the dough over top of the meat and pinch the dough shut, like a miniature coin bag.  Completely seal each dumpling.
     Brush a baking pan with olive oil.
     Place the 12 dumplings on the baking pan.
     Drizzle 2 to 3 drops of olive oil over each dumpling.
     Bake the dumpling in a 250 degree oven, till the dough dries slightly, and till light golden highlights appear.
     Shish Barak Recipe:
     Heat a sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil.
     Add 3 minced garlic cloves.
     Gently saute, till the garlic becomes soft and fragrant.
     Add 6 ounces of goats milk yogurt.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk the sauce as it heats, till the ingredients combine.
     Mix 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch with 1 tablespoon of cold water,
     Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce while stirring.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro leaves.
     Add 3 pinches of coriander.
     Check the consistency of the sauce.  The sauce should be a thin soupy cream sauce consistency.  Add water if necessary.
     Place the 12 stuffed dumplings in the sauce.
     Simmer till the dumpling dough becomes tender.  (About 5 minutes)
     Stir the sauce occasionally, so it does not separate!
     Use a spoon to arrange the dumplings in a wide shallow soup bowl.
     Pour the thin yogurt stewing sauce over the dumplings.
     Garnish with a cilantro sprig.

     Beyond delicious!  The yogurt broth is soothing and healthy tasting.  When the spiced meat filling of a dumpling is bitten into, a great flavor sensation takes center stage!  The dumpling flavor is superb tasting with the thin coriander cilantro flavored yogurt broth.  This is a great Lebanese entree!  Yum!  ...  Shawna     

April 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Mystery Basket Cooking Demonstration!

Persian Spiced Incan Quinoa Grain and Minced Veal Stuffed Grape Leaves 

Veal Loin Cutlets with Garlic Sage Beurre Noisette

Bette à carde braisée

Roasted Pork Loin

Kosher Salt Roasted Beets and Turnips

Persian Spiced Incan Quinoa Grain and Minced Veal Stuffed Grape Leaves 

Garlic Sage Beurre Noisette Artichokes and Candied Smoked Bacon Veal Topping

Veal Loin Cutlets with Garlic Sage Beurre Noisette

Bette à carde braisée

Alabama Style Rice and Beans

     Mystery Basket!
     Le Cordon Bleu offers some nice extracurricular activities for students.  Last weekend I participated in a Mystery Basket cook off.  That was a fun event!  A huge mystery basket full of odd food items was placed on a table and the participants were expected to create a few entrees with the items of the mystery basket.
     There were some pricy gourmet items in the mystery basket!  A boneless veal loin was the high dollar ticket item in the basket.  The executive chef asked me to prepare the veal in a specific way.  The veal loin section was cut into cutlets and sautéed.  A topping of garlic sage beurre noisette artichoke hearts and candied smoked bacon was prepared for the veal loin cutlets.  This turned out to be a nice uncomplicated modern veal presentation!

     The braised swiss chard was another simple item that looks nice on a plate.  I like how the braising liquid of swiss chard turns pink in color.

     The stuffed grape leaves were my idea.  I minced the veal trimmings from butchering the veal loin and cooked them with quinoa grain.  Other students were cooking a couple of rice dishes, so I figured that I would try a different grain than rice for the stuffed grape leaves.  I used Arabic Persian spices to flavor the quinoa & veal stuffing.

     One student made a nice roasted whole pork loin that was flavored with an Asian style marinade.  An Alabama style beans and rice entree that was made by a student showed that that there is room for good old fashioned home comfort cooking in modern French cuisine.

     The executive chef created a salt and pepper roasted chiogga beet and turnip plate that tasted very nice.  This gourmet salt roasting method brings nice flavors out ordinary root vegetables.

     Le Cordon Bleu offers many cooking classes and clubs that are open to the public on Saturdays.  The Knife Skills Club and the Baking Club had quite a large attendance.  The fees are reasonable and the learning experience is good for home cooks that wish to learn from experienced professional executive chefs and master chefs.
     By attending a few of the Le Cordon Bleu cooking demonstrations, an amateur can take a few steps toward cooking like a professional!  The class or demonstration atmosphere is informative, fun and upbeat.  Attending a Saturday Le Cordon Bleu cooking club or cooking demonstration is a good way to make the best of a weekend and to learn cooking skills that will last a lifetime!  Yum!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greenland Supermarket in Korea Town, Las Vegas!

Korea Town Las Vegas!

     The Greenland Supermarket is a great place to go shopping for Korean food in Las Vegas!  Anything and everything can be found at the Greenland Supermarket.  Previously, this market was called Hannam Ten.  
     The Greenland Supermarket is located at 6850 Spring Mountain Road by the intersection of Rainbow Boulevard in Korea Town, Las Vegas.  Korea Town is next to Chinatown.  Any asian food that you can think of can be found in this area!
     The Greenland Supermarket has a pagoda style entrance.  After entering the store, the first food that can be seen is an asian bakery and a candy shop.  The candy shop sells popular bean paste desserts and Korean style candy.  To the right is a very nice food court.  A food court in a grocery store?  Yes!  This is no ordinary food market.  There are several Korean restaurants to chose from at the food court.  Free sample tastings of menu items are sometimes offered at the entrance to the food court.  I sampled some great tasting Korean spicy pork!
     The produce section has many hard to get items and the prices are good.  The Greenland Supermarket has a very professional staff and the produce section was well maintained.  In fact, the entire store is well maintained and very clean.
     The fresh seafood section was very impressive!  The frozen seafood section was stocked full of specialty items.  There were many pre-made and pre-mixed ready to cook seafood packages for sale, that were perfect for customers who are on the go.  They actually had live Chesapeake Blue Crabs for sale.  I could not resist purchasing a couple of the lively fresh blue crabs!
     The butcher shop offered many specialty cuts of meat that are perfect for Korean cuisine.  Thin sliced shaved meat was available for doing table side Korean BBQ and bulgogi.  
     The beer and wine section has a great selection of Korean beer and wine.  Korean Hite Beer was available!  
     The noodle and rice cake area was huge!  The kimchi station offered many different kinds of high quality hand crafted Korean kimchi.  I purchased some nice looking radish top kimchi.  (Yulmoo Gat Kimchi)   
     The Korean dry goods and canned food section seemed to stretch into eternity!  An amazing selection of cooking oils and vinegars were available.  Plenty of Korean hot sauce too!  
     Plates, bowls and Korean kitchen utensils can be found at the Greenland Market.  Korean garnishing tools and neat specialty kitchen hardware was well stocked.  Cooking chopsticks were available too.
     It would take all day for a newcomer to explore the Korean Greenland Supermarket.  Chefs will definitely find plenty of "eye candy" food in this store.  I stocked up on Korean food items, so that I can post more Korean recipes in this blog.  
     My food blog does help to expose fine recipes from around the world and readers that may be bored with cooking the same old tired recipes can find new ideas here.  I do post reviews of specialty food markets in Las Vegas, so that people can see where I find the exotic ingredients for my recipes.  Specialty markets like those in Las Vegas are usually found in most major cities worldwide.  
     I highly recommend the Greenland Supermarket in Korea Town, Las Vegas!  It is an inspirational place for chefs and home cooks to get new cooking ideas.  
     The food court offers great food!  The staff and Korean customers are friendly and they are more than happy to explain Korean recipes to those who are interested in learning about Korean cuisine.  Koreans and most asians enjoy a social atmosphere at a food market and conversation is easy to make.  Especially if you are wearing a chef's uniform, like I was wearing while shopping at the Korean market!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Doro Wat, Bamya Alicha and Mesir Wat with Injera

A full Ethiopian meal served on injera bread!  Ethiopian stewed chicken, red lentil puree with stewed tomatoes and okra!

     Before this recipe proceeds, I must warn my food blog readers that Ethiopian food makes use of complex spice mixtures and the chile pepper heat level can be on the hot side.  The amount of ground chile peppers in the spice mix is a personal choice, but Ethiopian food is meant to have a spicy hot flavor!
     The Ethiopian cooking techniques are uncomplicated and easy to learn.  A spiced clarified butter is used in many recipes to enrich the entree and not just for frying.  In the age before refrigeration, clarifying butter was way of preserving butter as well as a way to prepare the butter for a higher smoke point temperature.  After the milk fats were cooked out of the butter, it took a much longer time for un-chilled clarified butter to turn rancid!
     Doro Wat is basically described to be the national dish of Ethiopia.  Doro Wat is Ethiopian stewed chicken.  Hard boiled egg is used as a garnish by many chefs for doro wat.
     Injera bread is easy to make, after the batter ferments for 3 days.  A very wide griddle or flat top grill is needed for making injera bread.  I do not have a griddle that large!  
     I purchased injera bread that was made by a local Las Vegas Ethiopian bakery.  The fresh injera bread was marketed at the Mediterranean Market in Chinatown.  It kind of almost sounds like I had to travel around the globe, just to get the injera bread for this recipe!
     Injera bread can be purchased fresh at local Ethiopian restaurants or Ethiopian bakeries.  If you have Ethiopian restaurants in your area, then stop by and pick up some injera and enjoy a great cup of Ethiopian coffee!
     Injera is used as the tablecloth, the plate and the dining utensils.  Nothing is wasted in an Ethiopian meal!  Pieces of injera are torn and placed between fingers to pick the food up with and eat.  The stews and purees of Ethiopian cooking are intentionally made thick, so they can easily be picked up with injera bread.

     Niter Kibbeh Recipe:
     Niter Kibbeh is Ethiopian spiced butter!  There are many variations of Niter Kibbeh recipes.
     Place 3/4 pound of unsalted butter in a sauce pot off of the heat.
     Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic.
     Add 1 small handful of thick sliced ginger.
     Add 2 or 3 crushed cardamom pods.
     Add 1 small cinnamon stick.
     Add 2 cloves.
     Add 3 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 2 pinches of fennel seed.
     Place the sauce pot over very low heat.
     Slowly render the butter and spices together, till the butter fats and water evaporate and the butter is clarified.
     Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     The clarified niter kibbeh can be refrigerated and scooped by portions for later Ethiopian recipes.

     Berbere Dry Spice Mix Recipe:
     Berbere is the main Ethiopian spice mix.  The spices are crushed together with a mortar and pestle.  A food processor or the side of a cleaver can be used to crush and grind the spices too.  If ground spices are used, then crushing is not necessary.
     Some of the berbere ingredients are very hard to find in markets, so treat them as optional ingredients.  Fenugreek or fenugreek seed is required, and that spice can be found in mediterranean markets.  Cardamon is expensive at common grocery stores.  You can get at least ten times as much cardamom at a Persian Arabic market for the same price as in an American grocery store!  Cardamom or Ethiopian korarima is required!
     Berbere can be made as a paste with fresh onion, garlic and ginger.  Berbere can also be made as a dry spice mix and onion, garlic and ginger become part of the ingredients of the featured recipe instead of the berbere spice mix paste recipe.  Ginger powder can be part of the dry spice mix, but fresh ginger can still be added to a recipe.  
     I prefer making the berbere dry spice mix rather than berbere paste.  The dry berbere spice mix has a long shelf life.  The berbere paste must be refrigerated and used within 7 days, because of Serve Safe health code reasons.  
     Place 1 tablespoon of ginger powder into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground dried basil leaf.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of coriander.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground cardamom.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground fennugreek.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground nutmeg.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ground clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1/2 cup of cayenne pepper.  (Add 1 cup to make a full strength berbere spice mix!) 
     Add 1 tablespoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/3 cup of paprika.
     Add 1 tablespoon of korarima.  (Korarima is Ethiopian cardamom.  Delete the regular cardamom, if you can find this spice.  This is an optional ingredient.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of rue.  (Common rue is fine.  Rue can be found in Bulgarian or Balkan markets.  Rue is also a common ornamental plant and is may be in a neighbors front yard!  Rue is a natural insect repellant, but it can be a strong skin irritant.  Now you know why when visiting Ethiopia, the native Africans stand there smiling with no flies or mosquitos pestering them, while you are busy swatting and cursing at the bugs!  This is an optional ingredient.)
     Salt can be part of the spice mix, but it is better to leave it out of the mix.  Salt should be added separately per recipe.

     Mesir Wat Recipe:  (Ethiopian Red Lentil Puree)
     Place 2 crushed garlic cloves into a sauce pot.
     Add small handful of chopped onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger.
     Add 3 tablespoons of the niter kibbeh.  (Ethiopian spiced clarified butter)
     Add 1 tablespoon of paprika.
     Add 1/2 cup of red lentils.  
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add twice ad much water as there is ingredients in the sauce pot.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil. 
     Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the mixture, till it cooks down to a thick paste.  Stir the mixture occasionally.
     The mesir wat must be thick and pasty enough to be scooped up with the injera bread!

     Doro Wat Recipe:  (Ethiopian Stewed Chicken!)
     Cook 1 egg, till it is hard boiled.  
     Cool the egg under cold running water and peel the egg.
     Set the hard boiled egg aside.
     Remove the bones, skin and fat from 3 chicken thighs.  (Thigh meat has a nice flavor for stewing, but any boneless cut of chicken can be used in this recipe.)
     Cut the chicken meat into large bite size pieces.
     Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of the Niter Kibbeh.
     Add 1 large handful of chopped onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 3 crushed garlic cloves.
     Saute till the onions become a golden color.
     Add the chicken thigh meat.
     Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the Berbere spice mice, while stirring.
     Add 1/2 cup of sherry or White Doe Sweet Wine.
     Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra water.
     Add 1/2 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1 chopped plum tomato.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the stew to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Gently simmer and reduce, till the chicken becomes fully cooked and tender.  Simmer and reduce, till the stew becomes thick.
     Keep the doro wat warm.

     Bamya Alicha Recipe:  (Ethiopian Stewed Okra and Tomato)
     Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of plain clarified butter.
     Add 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes.
     Stir till the tomatoes start to become tender.
     Add 3 crushed garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 coarsely chopped jalapeno pepper.
     Add 1 large handful of whole okra.
     Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.
     Add 1 teaspoon of paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of nutmeg.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the stew to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till most of the liquid has evaporated and till the stew becomes thick.

     Place one whole injera bread over a plate.
     Place 1 large mound of the Doro Wat on the injera.
     Place 1 medium size mound of the Mesir Wat on the injera.
     Place 1 medium size mound of the Bamya Alicha on the injera.
     Cut the hard boiled egg in half.
     Place the two halves of hard boiled egg next to the Doro Wat.
     Serve with rolled warm injera bread that is cut in half. 

     Viola!  A complete Ethiopian meal!  Oh, wait!  The Ethiopian salad can also be placed on the injera bread along with the meal!
     The spices and flavor combinations of Ethiopian cooking are hard to imagine.  Intense long lasting flavor and aroma is what this cuisine is all about.  There is no shortage of good flavor in Ethiopian cuisine!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

Arabic Roasted Orange Hybrid Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

Orange colored cauliflower hybrid in a traditional Arabic recipe!

     This is a traditional Arabic cauliflower recipe.  There are variations of this roasted cauliflower recipe that call for orange blossom water or seville orange, so to avoid confusion, I chose not to use the Arabic language for the title of this recipe.
     Hybrid orange colored cauliflower and hybrid purple colored cauliflower are relatively new on the market.  There is subtle changes of flavor in these two cauliflower hybrids that can be noticed when doing a taste comparison with standard white cauliflower.
     There are many great traditional Arabic, Egyptian and Persian vegetarian recipes.  If you are looking for tried and true good vegetarian flavors that are not boring, then this is the direction to go.  Only a few ingredients and a couple of simple cooking techniques, turn this Arabic cauliflower recipe into a very interesting tasty dish!

     Tahini Sauce Recipe:
     Place a saute pan on the stove top, but do not turn on the heat.
     Add 3 ounces of water.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of tahini. (Sesame paste.  Tahini can be found in middle eastern markets.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     The sauce will be heated later, when the cauliflower is nearly finished roasting!
     The tahini sauce only takes about 1 minute to cook.  The tahini sauce should only be heated to order, so the sesame paste does not become bitter.

     Toasted Sesame Seeds:
     The sesame seeds do not have to be toasted till they become brown!  They only need to be toasted till they become aromatic with a few tan colored highlights.
     Heat a dry saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.
     Constantly shake the pan, till the sesame seeds become aromatic and lightly toasted.
     Place the toasted sesame seeds into a small bowl.

     Arabic Roasted Orange Hybrid Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce:
     Cut about 1/2 of a head of hybrid orange cauliflower into 1" florets.  About 2 handfuls of the orange cauliflower florets should be enough.
     Place the hybrid orange cauliflower florets into a roasting pan.
     Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the cauliflower.
     Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil.
     Season with a pinch of sea salt.
     Place the pan in a 350 degree oven.
     Toss or turn the cauliflower every once in a while, as it roasts.
     Roast the cauliflower, till a few light brown highlights appear and till the cauliflower is roasted tender.
     Heat the tahini sauce over medium low/low heat.
     Stir the tahini sauce for one minute.
     Add a small splash of water, only if the sauce becomes too thick.  The sauce should be a medium thick consistency.
     Add the roasted hybrid orange cauliflower to the tahini sauce.
     Toss the cauliflower with the tahini sauce.
     Mound the Arabic Roasted Orange Hybrid Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce on a plate.
     Sprinkle some of the toasted sesame seeds over the cauliflower.
     Garnish the plate with Italian parsley leaves.

     Simple, delicious and very healthy!  Not every Arabic recipe requires complex spice mixes.  This is an Arabic recipe that has gentle rich flavors.  The hybrid orange cauliflower looks nice in this roasted cauliflower recipe!  Yum!  ...  Shawna