Willow Croft on Writing and Animals – Happiness Between Tails
Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s episode 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show has a new graphic to reflect that it’s shortened from an earlier version that included information that’s become outdated.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 Spotifyand Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is H-E-R-E.
Click here for an audio version of the blog post below.
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.
Get your grilled tomatoes started first, so they can caramelize while you make the kabobs.
- Slice them in half and bake them, cut side up, at 400°F for about 30 minutes.
For the “meat,” mix together:
- 1 lb. vegetarian ground meat substitute
- 2 eggs
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Then stir the following spices into the veggie meat and egg mixture:
- 1 tablespoon red Korean chili pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Shape the “meat” into flat broad strips, then brown them in a pan with a small amount of oil.
- Once plated, sprinkle the kabobs with sumac, which is a powdered berry that adds tartness, but no heat, even though it’s red.
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 in Farsi translates into “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 long-grain basmati white rice that’s been rinsed until the water runs clear. If time permits beforehand, soak it in salted water for several hours. Then boil it (don’t stir, otherwise it will turn mushy) 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 at the bottom of the pot, such as the rice, will crisp up.
Some cooks line a new pot with oil, then layer it with lavash (thin unleavened bread for which Mexican tortillas are a great substitute), or slivered potatoes. Gently heap the cooked rice over that, then cover the pot to steam everything until the bottom browns.
Many cooks simply pour several inches of oil at the bottom of the pot, while restaurants merely deep fry a bunch of rice. For a lighter version, Khashayar first lines the pot with a circle of parchment paper.
Rice is fluffiest when it’s handled least. Khashayar often rigs a thin towel to the underside of the pot lid, the ends of it pinned away from flames. That way steam can’t drip down and turn the rice gummy.
Once the rice is plated, liquify a pinch of saffron in a few tablespoons of boiling water. Stir into a ladle full of rice into that, then arrange the resulting bright gold grains over the white steaming mound.
The method for spaghetti tahdig is basically the same. Start with extra al dente pasta that’s been drained, then pile it into a pot lined with parchment paper and a little oil. Same as with the rice version, you can then steam the pasta over that, or you can first add thin bread or slivered potatoes to the bottom of the pot.
3. Asparagus Omelet with Mushrooms and Sweet Potatoes
Saute onion, garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper to taste.
Just before the omelet is completely cooked, fold in the above mixture and sprinkle in as much grated parmesan as you like.
Once plated, those who eat fish can top it with bits of smoked salmon, a “better” fish because not much is required for a lot of flavor. Ring the omelet with sweet potatoes that you’ve oven-roasted with paprika and cinnamon, along with the steamed mushrooms. Garnish everything with chopped fresh chives and parsley.
This makes a great brunch, especially when you serve it with a nice black tea mixed with cardamom and saffron. For the perfect compliments to the meal, fill bowls with 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), that everyone can eat in fistfuls between bites of the main dishes.
Warm lavash, feta cheese (a “better” cheese because just a few crumbles are quite satisfying), and walnuts soaked in brine 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?