Willow Croft on Writing and Animals – Happiness Between Tails
Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s audio show is the audio version of “Willow Croft on Writing and Animals,” which you can read the text version of H-E-R-E. (This show has a new graphic to reflect that it’s shortened from an earlier version that included information that’s become outdated. Anchor’s tools make editing easy!)
At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts and Breaker, to Pocket Casts and RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.
1. Veggie Kabobs with Grilled Tomatoes
The other night Khashayar cooked something so outstanding that I took a picture, but didn’t think about creating a blog post for it until too late — I’d only shot this one photo from the top of the stove. Sorry I can’t show you how scrumptious it looked plated with plain rice. Khashayar enjoyed his with slices of raw onion as well. No wonder his recipes get more likes than my posts!
Pardon that the instructions here are a bit rough. He’s been extremely busy with work lately, otherwise he’d write it himself. What follows is how he told me he made it, and the notes in parentheses are mine:
It’s an easy recipe, like making what Persians call kabob-mahitabe. (Mahitabe simply means pan.)
The base is fake meat, a pound of “Beyond” brand ground meat. T-H-I-S link explains about the brand.
For the “meat,” mix together:
- 2 eggs
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup freshly parsley, chopped
Spices to stir in:
- 1 tablespoon red Korean chilly pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black ground pepper
- Slice the tomatoes in half and bake them, cut side up, at 400°F for 30 minutes, or until caramelized.
- Shape the “meat” into flat broad strips, then brown them in a pan with a small amount of oil.
- Sprinkle them sumac (powdered red berries that add mild tartness, no heat).
2. Persian Rice and Tahdig
When a friend saw the kabob photo, she asked about “fancy Persian rice.” By that, she meant the crispy layer called tadig, which means “bottom of the pot.” Persians serve rice many ways, not always with tadig. They also cook spaghetti (which they label simply “pasta”) in a similar way to achieve spaghetti tadig!
The night of the kabobs, Khashayar didn’t make tadig so I don’t have a personal photo for you, but visit this blogger’s site for a nice photo of her variation on potato tahdig.
Begin with white long-grain basmati rice that’s been rinsed until the water runs clear. If time permits, soak it in salted water for several hours. Then boil it (don’t stir) only until it’s slightly undercooked, as it will be steamed further in the next step. Salt to taste.
The easiest method of making tadig is simply to leave it in the rice pot, cooking a bit longer. Basically whatever food is on the bottom, be it rice, bread, potatoes, or spaghetti, will crisp up into a single layer.
For more elaborate tadig, cooks line a new pot with oil, then lavash (thin unleavened bread — Mexican tortillas can work too) or slivered potato. Gently heap the cooked rice over that, then cover the pot to steam everything until the bottom becomes crispy.
Healthier and tastier, Khashayar lines the pot with a circle of parchment paper.
Finesse and trial-and-error are required to learn when it’s ready, because the least handled the rice is the fluffiest. Sometimes Khashayar rigs a towel to the underside of the pot lid, carefully pinned up so flames won’t get to it. That way steam won’t drip onto the rice and turn it mushy. Lazy cooks simply pour a ton of oil at bottom of pan, while restaurants go so far as to merely deep fry a bunch of rice — sacrilegious if you ask me.
Once the rice plated, liquify a pinch of saffron in a few tablespoons of boiling water. Stir into it a ladle full of rice, then arrange the bright gold grains over the top of your steaming pile o’ rice.
For spaghetti, the method is basically the same: cook it extra al dente, drain it, then pile it into a pot lined with parchment paper and a little oil. Like the rice, to the bottom of the pot you can add thin bread or slivered potatoes for variations on the crispy layer.
3. Asparagus Omelet with Mushrooms and Sweet Potatoes
Saute onion, garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper to taste.
When you’re almost done making your omelet, fold in the above mixture, along with a little parmesan.
Once plated, those who eat fish can top it with bits of smoked salmon, a “better” fish because not much is required to get a lot of flavor. Ring the omelet with sweet potatoes that you’ve oven-roasted with paprika and cinnamon, along with steamed mushrooms. Garnish with chopped chives and parsley.
Serve it with a nice black tea mixed with cardamom and saffron, along with mounds of whole leafy greens (soft mild ones such as fresh baby leaves from beets, arugula, and spinach), and herbs (such as parsley, mint, tarragon, and lemon basil) for everyone to eat in fistfuls between bites of the rest of their food.
Warm lavash, feta cheese (a “better” cheese because just a few crumbles are quite satisfying), and brine soaked walnuts are wonderful for breakfast too. Another great accompaniment is an interesting fruit salad like this one of pears, strawberries, bananas, and different colored grapes.
A brilliant Persian cookbook with splendid photos is “New Food of Life,” by Najimieh Batmanglij, which I reviewed H-E-R-E.
Nooshe jun! (Happy eating!)
What are you enjoying eating lately?