Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I have been a busy girl....

I have been busy cooking away, but I've been slacking on posting photos with recipes. In the next week, I will post the corresponding recipes to the items I've posted below. Also, I will start putting the serving size of each recipe.

Homemade Pizza

1 Year Anniversary Dinner

A Colorful Salad with Squash Blossoms and Quail Eggs

Crab Cakes w/ Avocado Mousse

Lime Coconut Salmon with Mango Lemongrass Salsa

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

Persian Baklava

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vegan 3-Bean Chili

This one is for my brother Brett, who is a vegan, and asks for recipes. It is really easy and yummy, and you can tailor it to your liking easily.

Vegan 3-Bean Chili
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of red beans with the chili spice already in it (chili beans)
1 can of black beans
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 onion
2 green peppers
1 c. frozen corn kernels
1 bag of Morningstar crumbles
1 tsp. cumin
chili powder to taste (I used about 1/8 c.--a lot!)
salt and pepper to taste

tofuti sour cream--I like this better than real sour cream
soysations cheddar cheese
corn chips

Saute the onion and garlic with a couple tblsps. canola oil until slightly translucent. Add the green peppers and continue to saute until the green peppers get a little softer and brighter green. Next just dump all the other ingredients in. At first it will be very thick, so you will simmer it over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with soy cheese, a dollop of tofuti sour cream, and some corn chips. 

Brett would be so happy--I made vegan curry chicken salad the other day too. Unfortunately, my husband ate it all before I could take a picture. Bad, husband! Babak gave the chili an 8.7 and the chicken salad a 9. I'll make it again and post. But here is the run-down, Quorn brand chicken, red onion, curry powder, major grey chutney, golden raisins, almonds, toasted coconut, carrots, and squash. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Spread

Here is what we had for our V-Day dinner. Tabriz style meatballs, garlic kuku, cheeses and vegetables, salad with beets, almonds, red onion, gorgonzola, and pear, yogurt and beet dip, hummus, eggplant and pomegranate, lavash bread, and carrot pudding.

Kuku-ye sir bij (Garlic Kuku)--FOR THE GARLIC LOVERS ONLY!!

Look. You really NEED to LOVE garlic to try this recipe. It is intense with garlic flavor, and you should not try kissing anyone after eating it. But it is unique and I like it in small doses.

Ironically, I made this kuku for my husband and mother-in-law for Valentine's day.

Kuku-ye Sir Bij
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/2 lb garlic, crushed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 c. butter
6 eggs

In a skillet over medium heat saute garlic and scallions in 2 tblsps. oil and 2 tblsps. butter until browned lightly, about 15-20 minutes. Add turmeric and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Once the garlic/scallion mixture has cooled slightly, mix with the eggs as well. Beat thoroughly.

Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with butter heavily. Pour egg mixture into the pan and bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, pour 1/8 cup of oil over top of the egg mixture and continue to bake until cooked all the way through (you can check with a knife to be sure--it should come out clean). This will probably be an additional 15-30 minutes.

Remove from oven when cooked through and let cool. Once cool use a knife to separate the sides of the kuku from the edge of the baking pan, and invert on top of a platter. Cut into wedges or squares and serve hot or room temperature.

Nazkhatun (Eggplant with Pomegranate)

I wish I had a better camera :( Don't be turned off by the idea of the pomegranate. It is only a very subtle taste that adds to the eggplant. There are so many different eggplant dishes you can make that require only little tweaking to this recipe. My mother-in-law made one up that is very good (and I plan to post it eventually) with ground beef and mint, turmeric, tomato,onion, garlic, and eggplant (no pomegranate). As I said in my beet-yogurt dip post, this dish tastes great when eaten with the yogurt.

3 Japanese eggplant (the long skinny ones)
2 medium onions, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, peeled (optional peeling) and thinly sliced
1-2 tblsps. pomegranate paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp angelica powder (you can buy this at Phonecia)
2 tsps. fried mint (dried and fried in oil)

Peel the eggplant and cut into 4 long quarters lengthwise. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant and let it stand for 1/2 hr until the eggplant starts to sweat. Doing this will get rid of any bitter taste in the eggplant. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
After the eggplant has sweat, rinse it off completely. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease the foil or spray Pam on it. Next lie the eggplant sliced on the foil and sprinkle with olive oil or spray Pam (which is only just canola oil by the way) on them. Cover the eggplant with another sheet of foil and place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. The eggplants will be ready when you can easily run a fork through them. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large frying pan heat the oil with the onions and garlic and saute until browned. Once browned add the chopped tomatoes and pomegranate paste and cook for another 8 minutes. Finally, add the eggplant, angelica powder, salt, pepper, and mint and stir completely and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot or room temperature with lavash bread, yogurt, and feta cheese on the side.

Halva-ye Havij (Carrot Pudding w/rose water and cardamon)

I made a feast for Valentine's Day for my husband and my Mother-in-law Shahla. My father-in-law is in Iran so I had her share the day with us. It was a pleasure to watch her win against my husband in Backgammon 6 out of 7 times! He usually wins when we play so often that I don't play with him anymore. It was satisfying to see the tables turned! We enjoyed this carrot pudding with tea and fruit while they played. It was the best item of the night, and my husband ranked it a 9, which is very high for him! :)

Halva-ye Havij
1 lb carrots, shredded
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. water
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sifted rice flour
2 c. milk (whole, skim, or soy works--I used soy)
1/2 tsp. ground saffron dissolved in 1/4 c. rose water
1 tsp cardamom
2 tblsps. chopped pistachios
2 tbslps. chopped almonds

In a saucepan over medium heat combine the water and the sugar and cook and stir until sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved add the shredded carrots, and cook over medium to low heat until carrots become very soft and mushy. This could take up to 45 minutes.

Once the carrots are soft and mushy, transport them to a blender and puree the mix and set aside.

In a large skillet melt the butter on medium heat and gradually add the rice flour and milk. Whisk the mixture so it is thick but not too thick. If it is too thick (like the consistency of already cooked pudding) add more milk. Be sure to whisk thoroughly so to dissolve all of the flour.

Once the pudding is thick, add the carrot mixture, cardamom, and the saffron-rose water mixture. Continue to whisk constantly until it thickens to the point where your arm is getting a little tired (possibly 10-15 minutes :) (this is how I gauge it).

Once the pudding is ready pour into a large shallow dish or individual serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When the pudding mixture is cooled completely garnish with the chopped pistachios and almonds and serve with cardamom tea. Yummy!

Borani-e Labu (Yogurt and Beet dip)

I thought this yogurt and beet dip would be a perfect dip for Valentine's day, as it is so beautiful. One thing I've learned about Iranians is that they basically eat everything with yogurt. With the addition of beets it makes the yogurt very earthy tasting, but it is very good. According to Batmanglij you are to make this dip with 2 tblsps. sugar. I omitted it. However, if you want to use her advice just mix the sugar with the yogurt in the recipe below. This tastes especially good with some cooked eggplant dish as well. I also made eggplant and pomegranate dip, so it taste well when I ate them together.

-e Labu
2 large uncooked beets
1 c. drained whole milk (high quality) plain yogurt
1 tblsp. chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil, and cooked in the oven for about 1-1.5 hrs. Remove the beets from the oven and let cool completely in the refrigerator. Once the beets are cooled, remove the foil while sliding off the skin of the beet at the same time (this will prevent you from staining your hands pink). Remove all the skin (it should slide off very easily). Cut off the base of the beet, and cube it into about 1/2 inch cubes.

One-half of an hour before you are ready for your guests, pour the yogurt in the serving dish and let beets stand at room temperature to the side. Right before your guests arrive top the yogurt with the beets and the chopped mint. Serve with lavash bread or pita bread.

The reason I like to let the beets and the yogurt out for 1/2 hr is to bring them to room temperature. It is my opinion that it taste best that way.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Balsamic Basil Berry Pie (very easy)

I made this berry pie for a soup and pie potluck with the Houston Chowhounds. Here is the recipe. It is almost shamefully easy.

1 small carton raspberries
1 small carton blueberries
1 small carton blackberries
2-3 small mangoes, diced
3-4 basil leaves, sliced in slivers very thin
2 tblsps. balsamic vinegar
2 tblsps. candied ginger, diced very small
3 packages of cream cheese, softened
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 graham cracker crust

Combine all fruit with the basil, candied ginger, and balsamic vinegar.
Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth.
Pour cream cheese mixture into the crust about halfway. Top with the fruit mixture. Refridgerate for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Makhani Paneer (Or close enough)

I went to Bombay Sweets the other day on Hillcroft, and I had this really good dish called Makhani Paneer. After my visit, I stopped by the Patel Brother's grocery store just to browse around. I picked up some shredded coconut and cashews for potential biryani and some ghee and paneer.

Tonight I decided, I'm gonna try to make that Makhani Paneer, so I got on the Internet. I didn't have all the ingredients in the recipes I saw, as they needed fenugreek and more chili powder than I had, so I improvised. I think my "close enough" Makhani Paneer was really good, and my husband gave it a 9.4, and requested another helping about 10 minutes ago (I said "it is too late to eat, he is eating mango now instead--marriage is about compromise ;)

I served the makhani paneer with a basmati rice with cardamon and cumin seeds and turmeric and a dash of curry. The recipes for the "close enough" makhani paneer and the rice are below.

Cumin and Cardamon Seed Rice (4-6 servings):

1 1/2 c. basmati rice (washed 5 times)
1/8 c. canola oil
1 tblsp. cumin seeds
8 cardamon pods, opened and seeds removed
3 c. water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Indian curry powder
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a rice cooker and let it do it's thang.

"Close Enough" Makhani Paneer (4-6) servings:
1 medium size onion, sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 heaping tblsp. ghee or regular butter
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz block of paneer, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tblsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmerics
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tblsp garam masala
1 tblsp Indian curry powder
salt to taste
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

(I didn't really measure the spices, but taste it as you go to see if you want to add more or less of something)

In a medium saucepan fry the onion with the ghee for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for an additional 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Mix in all the spices and saute with the onions for about a minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until simmering. Mix in the cream and let it thicken a bit. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree. Pour puree back into the pot and add the paneer cubes. Let the makhani paneer cook for another 3 minutes. Serve with the rice, and share with friends :) I'll be eating this for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Soy Maple Glazed Salmon

This salmon recipe is insanely simple. 

1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp citrus juice of your choice 
pepper to taste

Marinade the salmon steaks in the sauce in a Ziploc bag for at least two hours. In a large frying pan cook the salmon with the marinade, occasionally spooning the marinade over the fish.  

I served this with wasabi mashed potatoes and peas and sake glazed carrots. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Curry-Orange and Carrot Sea Scallop with Pureed Sunchokes

This is what I served as the third course of a 7 course dinner I hosted for Houston area food-bloggers/critics. It was one of the most liked dishes of the night, and a complete innovation of my own. 

Recipe for the pureed sunchokes:
1 bag of sunchokes (available at the Whole Foods on Kirby)
the juice of 1/2 orange
Heavy whipping cream
dash of salt, pepper, and cumin

Peel the sunchokes and cut into equal size pieces. Boil sunchokes until the are soft (like you would a potato). Drain the water and mash the sunchokes. Pour in the orange juice and enough cream so that it has a creamy consistency. Mix in the pepper and cumin to taste. 

Recipe for the Orange/Carrot/Cumin Puree:
 1 carrot peeled, chopped in 1/2 inch slices
chili powder
cayenne pepper

Boil the carrots until soft. Mash up and mix in a little cream, but not too much. Add salt and spices to your own taste. I think a little spice in this is good. 

Creamy Curry Sauce Recipe:
Heavy Whipping Cream
garam masala
curry powder
salt and pepper

Here is a little trick I used to not over or under salt my sauces. I mix it all up and taste cold, before I start heating it. I do this because everytime I want to taste for salt and it is cooking, I burn my mouth :) For this sauce don't add too much curry or garam masala, because I think it takes away from the flavor of the sunchokes. But really all you have to do is cook it on medium until it thickens a bit. 

Fried Carrots Recipe:
Using a peeler, peel long sliced of carrot. Fry until crispy like you would a potato chip! Easy...

Pan fry scallop until cooked. Ladle out some mashed sunchoke, add a dollop of the mashed carrot, top with scallop, pour a tablespoon of the curry cream on top and around side, add the carrot chips (dust with a little cumin--optional). Ta-duh!

Iranian Yogurt Dip (Maast-o Khiar)

This is very easy and very delightful and refreshing. The photo of the kuku below has the image of the dip.

3 Persian cucumbers, diced
1/2 c golden raisins
2-3 c of HIGH quality whole milk yogurt
1/4 c chopped scallions
1 tblsp chopped fresh mint
2 tblsps chopped fresh dill
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 tblsps chopped walnuts
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Garnish with mint and rose petals

Just mix it all up! Serve with lavash bread and feta.

Iranian Herb Quiche (Sabzi Kuku)

My father in law once made Sabzi Kuku when he was visiting my husband and I in St. Louis. It is his specialty, and my husband goes gaga over it. This was the first time I tried it. That day he spent hours washing, mincing, and mixing herbs (insane amounts). He then mixed berries and walnuts and eggs into it. I thought to myself, that seems really weird, and it was intensely green! The end result was so unusual and fantastic I learned it myself. Here is how I make it, with a few modifications of Batmanglij's recipe.

5-6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
dash of cinnamon
dash of cumin
dash of cardamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 c finely minced scallions
1 c finely minced parsley
1 c finely minced cilantro
1 c finely minced dill
1 tblsp flour
1 tbslp dried fenugreek
2 tblsp barberries
1/4-1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 oil or clarified butter
3 tbslp chopped tarragon
1 romaine leaf

First soak all of the herbs to clean them very well. Finely chop all of the herbs. In a large mixing bowl whisk all of the ingredients together. I think it is good to give it a good whip with an electric mixer to allow some air bubbles--this makes it fluffier. Preheat oven to 350. Grease (generously) a 9 inch cake pan. Pour the mixture into the pan, and cook in oven until cooked all the way through. You can then just plop it out and cut in wedges. Serve with feta cheese or yogurt. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Roasted Fall Root Vegetables

Maybe you've started thinking about what you are going to make for Thanksgiving. Here is a good idea that will help you split from the normal roasted carrots or sweet potatoes, roasted root vegetables. It is also very pretty. It is important to slice all the vegetables to the same size. The size, doesn't really matter, as you just want to ensure that they are cooking all at the same rate.

1 bag parsnips, peeled and sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 turnip, peeled and sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, sliced (or white or red pearl onions whole with the outer covering removed)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or halved for pretty presentation)
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
3 small red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
Mixed dried herbs (rosemary, pepper, salt, marjoram, savory, thyme...)
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 330 degrees.

2. in a mixing bowl mix all the root vegetable slices with the onion and garlic.

3. pour in enough oil to coat the vegetables.

4. mix in the spices and herbs so that they are sticking to the oil and coating the vegetables enough to look like the picture. (I didn't measure, so I have no clue how much I added.) This would be a hard step to mess up.

5. pour the mix into a large deep baking dish, and cover

6. roast in the oven for at least 2 hours (I think I cooked it more, but I can't remember)

Special Notes: check on your dish every 1/2 hr to mix it up a bit and possibly add more oil if it looks too dry. Taste a piece here and there to see if it is cooked the way you prefer. Some people like extremely overdone root vegetables, others prefer them to maintain a little crunch. By monitoring the progress you can have them just the way you like them, although there is no guarantee that your husband will not say "I think the carrots are too crunchy" :)

Fried Butternut Squash Filled Wontons

So my picture isn't great...

I recently saw a recipe for butternut squash filled fried wontons. If I remember correctly, the recipe sounded somewhat sweet. I liked the idea, and have a new found love for frying (I got an awesome fryer for a wedding gift), but thought the recipe would be better kind of savory with cumin and onion and a lot of garlic. Actually, I added chili powder and pepper and salt too to make it a tad spicy. They turned out really good, so good that my husband wants me to make a couple hundred of them for our Halloween Party. Here is the recipe.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (seeds removed)
1 pkg litte square wonton wrappers (available at Kroger)
1 half onion, diced
2 tsp garlic chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. boil the squash until soft

2. sautee onion and garlic until soft and translucent

3. mix the spice mix in with the onions once they are soft, and cook for another minute

4. mix onion mixture with squash mixture and smash sqush so it is all thouroughly mixed.

5.brush edges of wonton wrapper with water and spoon 1/2 tsp of butternut squash filling into middle and folder up as to make a little hobo bag.

6. Fry the hobo bags in oil until golden brown.

You don't even need a sauce for these, but I was thinking it might work with a chili yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque

I love bisque of any kind. I also have a love for curried butternut squash. So you mix the two, and you have my soup. I made this with my father in law in mind.
1 butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2-1 c. heavy cream
1 c. vegetable stock
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1 tblsp. curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

1. boil squash until soft.

2. meanwhile saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent, then add spices and saute for about a minute.

3. heat vegetable stock, add onions mix and cream to stock. Put heat on low.

4. drain squash and add to the stock/cream/onions. Remove from heat and puree in a blender. Add more or less spices depending on your taste.

5. top it off with some croutons. You could even mix this dish with chicken and serve over rice.

Stuffed Zuchinni Blossoms and Red Pepper Sauce

I am not even going to post this recipe here, as this link has step by step instructions. They are easy and good.

Now, as for the red pepper sauce:

I like to mix and match sometimes. Very cool dish and easy to make.

Asparagus Flan

I stopped at Le Benedict last week. Was okay. Service good. Food kind of salty. Wasn't very impressed. However, they had one dish, the Asparagus Flan, that was excellent if the puny, overcooked, little crab claws arranged around it were omitted. Not sure why they did that...
Anyway, I decided I needed to make it. So I figured it had to be made out of eggs and cream and asparagus. But how much of each? I hit the internet to start looking for proportions. Apparantly there are a lot of recipes out there for asparagus flan. I settled on Emerial Lagasse's, though I didn't follow it or measure anything, which is why maybe mine came out not "asparagus" enough, like the one at Le Benedict.

Anyway, here is Emeril's recipe. His original also has crab with. I suggest amping up the ratio of asparagus to eggs and cream. I didn't have crab. Maybe this is the recipe Le Benedict was inspired by? I do think mine looks prettier!

I garnished with celery leaves (that is all I had pretty much--I'd use fresh tarragon if it was available), heart of palm slices, and a creamy garlic aioli. A lemony hollidaise would taste good too with maybe some crumbled feta.

1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and stalk bottoms peeled if necessary
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon leaves, plus 2 teaspoons
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells

Trim asparagus and cut stalks diagonally into 1-inch lengths. Reserve tips separately.
In a large, heavy skillet, cook asparagus and onion in 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat until asparagus is tender, about 20 minutes. Puree asparagus mixture in a food processor until very smooth. If after pureeing the mixture you still have tough fibers, pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve before proceeding.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and lightly coat the inside of 6 (1/2-cup) ramekins with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Transfer the pureed asparagus mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs, heavy cream, cheese, 1 teaspoon tarragon, salt and pepper. Divide the asparagus mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins and place ramekins in a large baking pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pan, and bake, uncovered, until flans are set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack to cool slightly.
(The Part I skipped)

While flans are cooking, blanch the asparagus tips in a small saucepan of salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Rinse under cool running water to keep from overcooking and set aside to drain. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, chives, 2 teaspoons tarragon, lemon zest, Worcestershire Sauce, and salt and white pepper, to taste. Add the crabmeat and reserved asparagus tips and toss gently but thoroughly to combine. Reseason, if necessary.

When the flans have cooled slightly, run the tip of a paring knife around the edge of each flan and turn flans out onto serving plates. Garnish each flan with some of the crabmeat mixture and serve immediately. Flans are equally delicious served hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Vegetarian Horseradish Beef Salad Sandwiches

No doubt one of the reasons I love horseradish so much is my German heritage. We mixed horseradish in potatoes, put it on beef, and slapped gobs of it on sandwiches growing up. And we used to eat potatoes almost every single night when I was a child, so there is no wonder I love potatoes too! I decided to come up with a nice German beef/potato/horseradish salad for our dinner tonight, because, well I like to get creative with what we have in the refridgerator. I decided to add apple because a little sweetness goes well with horsradish, such as beet or parsnip.

Here is what I came up with.

1 bag of morningstar soy beef steak strips
2 tsps. minced red onion
2 small stalks of celery, plus some of the leaves, finely sliced
2 tblsps. horseradish (I added more, but modify based on your taste)
2 tblsps. finely chopped green apple (skin peeled)
2 tblsps. Vegan Mayo (healthier and chicken friendly!) regular will do though
1 hard boiled free range egg white, chopped
1/4-1/2 c. cooked potato, chopped (frozen cubed hash browns work fine)
1. Thaw out steak strips in the refridgerator overnight or just cover with a little water and cook until heated through (you need to cover them with water so they stay tender, otherwise they will dry out and be chewy) and drain the water.

2. Cook the potatos in the microwave if frozen, or chop and cook like you would normally.

3. Cut the steak strips up into about 1/2 inch cubes.

4. Mix everything, and top with a little fresh lime juice.

You can eat this stuffed in a pita bread, with a rye bread, or anyother kind will do.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fig and Olive Tapenade

I found this recipe on It is really good and easy. I only modified it to use goat cheese, instead of cream cheese.

1 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup chopped kalamata
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped toasted
1 package Goat Cheese

1. Combine figs and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, and liquid has reduced. Remove from heat, and stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne. Add olives and garlic, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.

2. Unwrap cream cheese block, and place on a serving platter. Spoon tapenade over cheese, and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve with slices of French bread or crackers.

Mini Chile Rellenos

I stopped by the grocery store two days ago with my husband and I saw these beautiful mixed color mini peppers. I thought they’d be cute as mini chile rellenos. Here is the recipe I developed.

1 pkg. mini stoplight colored peppers
½ c. soy crumbles
½ c. hash browns (frozen)
¼ c. onion
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
½ c. Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
2 egg whites
1 tblsp. Flour
1 can enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash peppers and remove top and seeds. Place peppers on a baking sheet and cook in oven until tender. Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Mix in cumin and hash browns. Cook until hash browns are hot. Mix in soy crumbles and cook until just heated. Remove from heat and mix in the cheese. When the peppers are soft, remove from the oven and stuff with the crumbles/cheese mixture. With a hand mixer mix the egg whites with the flour until firm peaks form. Dip the stuffed chiles in the mixture until coated. Then sauté chiles in oil in a frying pan. Once browned on each side place chile rellenos on a bed of enchilada sauce. Enjoy!

Mock Voice's Mushroom Cappuccino

Voice published its recipe for its mushroom cappuccino on its website. The soup intrigued me. I thought it was kind of cute. This is why I decided to replicate it. What better place to start with the actual recipe.

First I made the soup exactly the way it was written. The soup turned out super creamy, more than I tasted in the actual soup when I went to Voice, so later took out about 2/3rds of the cream. I also added some other stuff and chose not to put it through a sieve. I like it a little chunky. The foam recipe works well enough. I need to learn how to make it more "foamy". Let me know if anyone knows how to do this. I also added a couple bay leaves and some thyme. My recipe follows.
I love when great chefs share recipes, so I can make a futile attempt at copying them and making them my own.

3lbs mixed mushrooms (crimini, white-button, shitake, baby bella)
2 large onions (sliced thin)
3 tblsp. Chopped garlic
½ stick butter
2 cups dry white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic in butter until caramelized. Add Mushrooms, chopped. Sweat until the mushrooms have shrunk down. Cook about 15 minutes. Add the thyme, paprika, and bay leaf. Add wine and reduce by 3/4ths. Add broth and cream and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Puree mixture in a blender until smooth.

For foam, mix 1 tbslp truffle oil and ¼ cup heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer until thick. Top pureed soup with truffle foam. Enjoy!

Ash-e Reshteh

(Ash-e Reshteh=Noodle Soup in Farsi, Ash=soup, Reshteh=noodle)
My aunt-in-law, Pershang, makes the best ash. I once requested she let me observe while she made it. I did, then I went home and followed the Iranian standard cookbook "Food of Life". I also used some of Pershang's twists.

Here is the cookbook's recipe.

Persian noodles are available at Phoncia. Kashk is also available at Phonecia.

1/4 cup red kidney beans, soaked
1/4 cup navy beans, soaked
1/4 cup chickpeas, soaked
3 onions, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
10 cups water
1/2 cup lentils
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup chives or scallions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dill weed, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cups spinach(fresh or frozen), chopped
1 beet, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 lb. flat egg noodles or Persian noodles(Reshteh)
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup liquid kashke or sour cream, or 1/4 cup wine vinegar

*Gheimeh Garnish
1/4 lb. beef, in 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. yellow split peas
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. salt

*Mint Garnish
1 onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. dried mint flakes

Soup instructions:
In large pot, brown onions in oil. Add salt, 1/4 tsp. of the pepper, and turmeric. Pour in water and add kidney beans. navy beans, and chickpeas. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add lentils and broth. Cook 35 minutes. Add scallions, dill, parsley, spinach, and beet. Stir occasionally and
cook 20 minutes or until done. Correct seasoning(add the rest of the pepper if needed) and add more water if too thick. Add noodles, flour and cook until noodles are done--about 10 minutes.

If using kashke or sour cream, set aside a heaping Tbsp. for garnish. Stir 2 Tbsp. of soup into remaining sour cream. Stir this mixture slowly into soup. Reheat just before serving, adding more water if it's too thick.

About 1/2 hour before serving, prepare gheimeh garnish. Brown meat, onion, and garlic in oil. Stir in water and split peas. Cover and cook 20 minutes over low heat. Add tomato paste, saffron, and salt. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.

While gheimeh is simmering, prepare mint garnish. Brown onion and garlic in oil. Remove from heat. Crush mint flakes in hand and stir into onion. Pour soup into tureen, garnish with gheimeh and mint garnish and reserved sour cream by floating them on top.

Shabak Notes: Instead of using dried beans I used canned. 1 can of beans to 1/4 cup of dried. This made it easier. I also ampped up the mint and added fried onion to the garnish. This is what Pershang does and boy it adds to the taste. I also serve with a dollup of yogurt--the whole milk, Bulgarian kind from Phonecia. God I love this ash...

Vegetarian Reubens

I love reuben sandwiches. Here is my vegetarian version.

2 sliced of rye bread
2 tblsp saurkraut
1 tblsp thousand island salad dressing
4 strips soy beef
enough swiss cheese for one sandwich

Toast bread. Thaw and heat soy beef. Layer bread, dressings, kraut, soy beef, and cheese. Toast in the oven until cheese is melted. Consume. Yum.

Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese

This months Bon Appetit magazine had a good recipe for cauiflower mac. I love mac, so I leveraged it. Turned out quite good. Here is the original recipe. I paired it up with vegetarian reubens.

1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cored, cut into 1-inch florets
2 large heirloom tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Coarse kosher salt
2 tab
1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cored, cut into 1-inch florets
2 large heirloom tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups coarsely grated Comté cheese (or half Gruyère and half Fontina; about 9 ounces), divided
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup crème fraîche*
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
10 ounces penne (3 1/2 cups)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor)
lespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups coarsely grated Comté cheese (or half Gruyère and half Fontina; about 9 ounces), divided
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup crème fraîche*
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
10 ounces penne (3 1/2 cups)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor)
Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using large sieve, transfer cauliflower to bowl. Add tomatoes to pot; cook 1 minute. Remove from water; peel and dice tomatoes. Reserve pot of water.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups Comté cheese; whisk until melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup Parmesan, then crème fraîche and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Return reserved pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to same pot. Stir in cauliflower mixture and sauce.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon in half of pasta mixture; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Top with remaining pasta mixture and 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Remove from heat; mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Sprinkle crumbs over pasta. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pasta uncovered until heated through and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Parsnip, Apple, and Machego Au Gratin

I went to Feast, and was inspired by the parsnip au gratin they served. I thought it was really clever, and I thought to myself "gee, I don't think I've ever cooked parsnips." So I went home and the next day came up with my own version. I liked the subtle sweetness of the parsnips and how it contrasted with the machego. I thought maybe a teeny bit of green apple would be nice in it as well. I'm doing my best to remember what I all put in it, so here goes. Looking back I think this is an easily modifiable recipe. You could add carrots or any other root vegetable or squash. Feel free to get creative.

1 medium size green apple, peeled and sliced in thin sliced.
1 bunch parsnips, peeled like you would a carrot, and sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded machego
1 cup shredded gruyere
1/4 stick of butter
4 cloves garlic
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
enough slices of hearty bread to cover the bottom of your casserole dish

1. Saute onion and garlic in the butter, until soft

2. paraboil the sliced parsnips until kind of soft

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the egg, the cheese, sauted onion, parsnips, and sliced apple. Mix until it is all blended.

5. Put a layer of toasted bread on the bottom of the casserole dish.

6. Pour the parsnip mixture in the dish on top of the bread. Pack it down.

7. Top it all up with enough cheese to cover the mix. You should add more or less depending on your love of cheese.

8. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and a little bit browing.

Note: Let the au gratin cool a little before slicing, because it will cut easier when a little cooled.

Tomato Bread Pudding

Yummmy....Recipe to come.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Copycat of Feast's Fennel, Radish, and Orange Salad

I had this salad at Feast and once again, they got me thinking outside my inexperienced box. The recipe is easy to figure out. I have no idea where to begine with measurements.

1 orange, peeled and sliced
bulb of fennel
few basil leaves
white vinegar
teeny bit of olive oil
chili powder and paprika
roasted garlic??

Mix the salad up as in the picture. For the dressing I just mixed mayo with vinegar until it was slightly creamy. Add a little oil. Be careful not to add too much vinegar. Add whatever spices you want. I choose chili powder and paprika. I couldnt remember what the spice was I tasted. I think there was garlic in there too, but I'm not certain. But I'm a garlicaholic, so in my opinion you can just go ahead and add it it everything!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chilean Sea Bass and Asparagus w/ Lemon Beurre Blanc

After the'll get the recipe.

Garam Masala Scallops w/ Curried Fufu

Again, recipe to come at the 15th...

Sunflower Greens, Cherry Tomatos, Shaved Cranberries, and Pecan Crusted Brillant Savarian

Sunflower greens are very nutty. I love them. I think they go well with sweet and nutty flavors.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Green Pepper and Crab Bisque

My husband recently met me for lunch in downtown Houston. We decided to splurge and go to Ibiza. Normally, I only go here when my company is paying for it. They have this really tasty green pepper crab bisque. My husband loved it. So we decided I'd have myself a throw down. Ultimately, my husband said it was a tie. They both taste different enough to make comparing difficult. Here is the recipe I came up with.

4 c. fish stock (frozen is best)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/3-1/2 lb. jumbo lump crab meat (the prepackaged kind at Whole Foods is good)
1 small lobster tail
1 c. heavy cream
1 tblsp. butter
1 tblsp. flour
1/2 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 c. fresh spinach
1 celery stalk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the two peppers and place on a cooking sheet. Bake in the oven until soft, about 20-25 minutes.

2. Cut the lobster tail in half and remove the meat and set aside.

3. Place the lobster shell in a stock pot with the fish stock, bay leaf, celery stalk, and old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. The lobster shell gives a nice flavor to the stock.

4. Meanwhile, in another pot melt butter with the onions saute until soft.

5. Mix flour into the butter/onion mix. Cook the flour for a rouge.

6. Strain the stock in a seeve into another bowl, netting out the tail shell, the bay leaves, and the celery stalk from the stock, and slowly pour the stock into the butter/onion rouge, one cup at a time, mixing constantly.

7. Add the heavy cream to the mix.

8. Remove the peppers from the oven. Remove seeds and stems (haha, that sounds interesting)and place the peppers with the spinach in a food processor. Grind it all up and add it to the soup.

9. Put the lobster meat into the food processor to shred it up.

10. Add the lobster meat to the soup. Cook for 10 minutes.

11. Add the crabmeat to the soup. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Note: If you have a basic understand of what "bisque" is, you can go crazy with making your own version. Crab Bisque is basically a 1 part cream to 4 parts fish stock with about 1 tbslp butter for every 2 cups of stock. Variations of this recipe might include adding butternut squash instead of peppers or cauliflower. Also try adding some cream sherry to the bisque. It gives it a little kick and sweetness. You could add corn. Mix it up. Good luck!

Manadrin, Almond, Red Pepper and Feta Salad

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beet, Peach, Apple, Blue Cheese Salad w/ Balsamic

This was just a little improvised side for the bisque. It turned out well.


1 bag bibb lettuce
1/2 c. blue cheese
1 can beets
1 green apple
1 peach

Just layer it all. Make a good dressing by mixing balsamic with olive oil and lemon. taste as you go. It is really very easy.

Chocolate Molten Cake

Discussion to come...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shrimp Empanadas

My husband loved the "Beef" and Cheese Empanadas so much, that he requested I copy the shrimp empanadas from Escalante's. I did, and I must say, I've beat them :)


Follow the recipe for "Beef and Cheese Empanadas" for the dough.


1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 block Monterrey jack cheese (it is kind of hard to add too much or too little)
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tblsp. cumin
1/2 tblsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion, red pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes

2. Add tomato and spices. Cook until soft.

4. Add Shrimp. Cook for 3.5 minutes.

5. Remove the filling from heat.

6. Add one tblsp. filling to the empananda wrapper, and deep fry following the "Beef and Cheese Empanada" recipe.


1 bunch of fresh cilantro

Okay, so I don't measure--I need to.

In a food processor mince the leaves of the bunch of cilantro. Add about 1/2 c. mayo and 2 tblsp. vinegar. The sauce needs to be creamy and runny, so add enough vinegar to do this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Heirloom Caprese Salad

I love heirloom tomatoes. They are so delicious. This weekend I bought three--a deep red one, a red one, and a yellow one. Here is the recipe for the salad I made using them.

3 tricolored heirloom tomatoes
20 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. grated red onion
1 tsp grated green apple
1/4 c. basil oil (regular olive oil will work)
2 tblsp. sherry vinegar
2 balls of the Mozerella di buffelo
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the grated onions and apple with the oil and vinegar. Shake well. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper as desired.

2. Slice the tomatoes and cheese into equally thick slices.

3. Stack the tomatoes, cheese, basil, until you have about 6 layers. Pour the dressing on top and around.

Then eat it. :)

Barbeque Soy Chicken

This is the easiest thing in the world.


1 bag of Morningstar Soy Chicken Strips
barbeque sauce
Hamburger Buns

1. Defrost chicken strips over night in the refrigerator.

2. Mix enough bbq sauce with chicken to coat.

3. Microwave for 2 minutes.

4. Serve on the hamburger buns.

Green Beans w/ Truffle Oil, Garlic, and Murcia Curado

Again, I improvised. Go by taste. I don't measure. I wish I did, it would be easier to put in the blog...


1 lb. Haricot Verts (French Green Beans)
3/4 red onion, sliced thinly
6 cloves of garlic. chopped in quarters
2-3 tsp. truffle oil
1/2 tsp butter
Murcia Curado shavings
salt and pepper to taste

1. First blanch the green beans in boiling water until a little soft, but not too much--maybe 3 minutes.

2. Saute onion, garlic, truffle oil, and butter until they are soft. Add the salt and pepper to the saute to taste.

3. When the green beans are done, drain, and add to the onion and garlic mix. Saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.

4. Arrange the green bean dish on a plate and top with shavings of murcia curado. Try to make them more thick than thin.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Potato Salad with Herbs de Provence

I made all new things for lunch today. I made all of my recipes up, and unfortunately, I didn't write anything down. But I'm going to do my best to remember. Really, I highly recommend just buying some of the ingredients and modifying by tasting as you go. Don't be afraid to try new things. This is how you learn.

Here is what was on the lunch menu: Potato salad with herbs de Provence; French green beans with garlic, truffle oils, red onions, and murcia curado cheese; and barbecue soy chicken.

Potato Salad:

1 bag of red jacket potatoes from Whole Foods
1/4 red onion, finely diced
3/4 c. mayo (more or less, depending on your taste--taste it as you go)
5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1 tsp. of each of the following, Thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, basil, savory, marjoram, chives, tarragon, and anything else you want--(it really is up to you)
2 tblsp. white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

1. boil a deep pot of water plus a couple tsp. salt. Add red jacket potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes and sliced into quarters. Mix with all of the other ingredients. Mix well.

Recipe Note: It is hard to mess up potato salad. Taste it as you go. This is what I do.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tyrokavteri with Cannellini Beans

I wanted to make hummas. And I pulled out the can of what I thought was garbanzo beans, opened it up, and thought "hmm, those are small garbanzo beans". So I looked closer and realized I grabbed a can of cannellini beans. Now that I had it opened, I had to use it. So I decided I'd make a hybrid tyrokavteri with beans. Tyrokavteri is a greek dip made with just roasted red peppers and feta.


1 can of cannellini beans (garbanzo would work too)
3 roasted red peppers from the jar
1 small block (1/2 in. thick 2X3 rectangular--really you don't have to be exact)
1 lemon
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. white pepper
salt to taste

1. squeeze the juice of the lemon out into a food processor, then mix in the remaining ingrediants. Mix it all up until it is smooth.

2. Serve with fresh basil leaves and pita bread.

Fereni (Iranian Rice Pudding with Rose Water)

For Christmas this year my inlaws gave me the famed Iranian cook book New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij. This book is probably in every Persian-American's kitchen. My father in law follows the recipes to the T and makes some very good dishes from it.

Since my husband loves Fereni, he once requested that I make it. The first time I followed Batmanglij recipe. It came out not thick enough and not as rose-tasting as I'd like. So I've made a few modifications. I think I got it down pat now. My husband ate about 4 bowls the last time I made it--he loves the stuff.

My Recipe:

1/4 c. Plus 2 Tblsp. rice flour
4 c. Milk
3 tbsp. rose water
1/2 c. sugar

1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring almost constantly (good exercise for your arm) until it is thick and creamy.

2. When thick, remove from heat and pour in a bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hrs. When ready to serve garnish with finely chopped pistachios and chopped rose petals. Nush-e Jan! :)

Beef and Cheese Empanadas (Vegetarian)

I also made this recipe up.


1 pkg. of Fango brand empanada dough (you can buy this at Phoenicia in the frozen food or at Fiesta)
1 bag Morningstar ground soy beef
1 small onion sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 tblsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 8 oz block of Monterrey jack cheese, shredded with grater
4 tblsp. salsa (any kind will do, this is just acting as a wetting agent)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Defrost empanada dough and soy meat by placing in the refrigerator the night before.

2. Heat deep fryer to 350, or if on stove fill deep pot with enough canola oil to cover the empanadas, maybe four inches (get a deep fryer if you plan to fry often--it is worth it)

3. saute onion and garlic with a little oil in a pan. Mix in salsa and cumin and cook just a minute.

4. Place the onion/garlic/salsa mix in a food processor. Grind up. Then add the soy meat and cheese. Mix up.

5. Now, take a heaping tblsp. of the mix and place in the center of the empanada dough wrapper. Fold over in a half moon and with the tip of a fork seal the edges around. Do this until you run out of wrappers or filling.

6. Deep fry until golden brown.

Cook's Note: You can make a sauce by just mixing salsa and a little mayo, or mix 1/4 cup mayo with finely chopped fresh cilantro and enough vinegar to make it a little creamy and runny--this is what they do at Escalantes in Houston. Also get creative with the filling. You could also add corn or mashed black beans or even chicken (soy of course).

Stuffed Green Pepper (Vegetarian)

When I was younger my mother used to make stuffed green peppers. Her recipe was very basic. As a child I hated it, because it had ground beef in it. I hated meat when I was younger, which was my original reason for being a vegetarian. It wasn't until adulthood that I discovered there are sooo many more reasons not to eat meat (thanks to my wonderfully ethical and educated husband:). I later tried my mother's recipe and liked it--with soy ground beef. I've modified her recipe to work with soy meat. When you are using real beef, the recipe can be simple, because the beef adds flavor. Soy beef can be bland, and needs a little kick. I add tons of herbs. It is delicious.


1 bag of Morningstar ground beef
1 c. uncooked long grain white rice
2 c. water
6-8 green bell peppers
2 (14.5 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 c. white cooking wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped finely
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 tblsp. dried tarragon
1 tblsp. dried oregano
1 tblsp. dried sage
1 tblsp. dried basil
1 tblsp. dried fennel seeds
1 tblsp. dried dill weed
1 tblsp. dried mint
1 tblsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

If using soy beef, defrost the the soy beef by putting it in the refrigerator a day ahead.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic until evenly browned. Remove 2 tblsp. of the onion/garlic mixture for the sauce and set aside. Add a little more oil and add herbs and pine nuts and saute for about 1 or so minutes. Add the soy beef, and saute only until the beef looks warmed. Remove from heat and mix with cooked rice.

For the sauce, mix the crushed tomatoes and reserved onion garlic mixture in a sauce pan. Add salt to taste. Also add white wine and cook until reduced a bit.

Cut the tops of the peppers off and remove the seeds and membrane inside. Reserve the tops for later, but cut the seed portion off. Fill each pepper with the rice and soy beef filling. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers slightly if necessary so that they will stand upright.)

Pour the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Top the peppers off with the reserved tops.

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, basting with sauce in the dish every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender.

Cook's Note: This recipe is easy to be creative with. Try adding some goat cheese, feta, lentils, garbanzo beans, or olives to the filling.