Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bouillabaisse

As I mentioned many many times, my mother is a superb cook. She can make a large pot of soup in less than half hour, while making other things simultaneously. She is a great multitasker when it comes to cooking, but she tends to accumulate piles and piles of dishes that I have to clean up. Brian and I like to clean up as we go, but that's not the case with my mom! Regardless, she is the best and I have a lot of learning to do from her. Anyhow, this time, mom made this yummy bouillabaisse.


For desert, mom made a delicious Georgian pastry called White Bear. It's a three layered pasty with strawberries, raisin and walnuts (you can substitute different fruits, such as peaches and apricots).  There is nothing comparable to Georgian pastries in the US. The type of cream used in the filling loosely translates to "boiled cream" in English. It's made with milk, flower, butter, and vanilla. The White Bear is dense but soft and fluffy at the same time.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brian's Homemade Chicken Soup

Today, Brian made this yummy chicken soup from scratch. He likes to make his own chicken stock the night before and finish up the next day. Growing up, I was used to having potatoes in my chicken soup, but Brian likes to use parsnips (and sometimes turnips) instead. I think it's a good idea since potatoes crumble and are starchy. Nothing is better than coming home and indulging on a bowl of homemade chicken soup after a cold day.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Roasted Bone Marrow

Dogs like bones. We do to. Bone marrow is the elixir of life. Humans evolved large brains in part by adding bone marrow to their diet, it has remained an important part in many cuisines ever since. Bone marrow has a simple, but tricky preparation. The bones (beef) must first be washed thoroughly. They are then placed in a baking pan and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and EVOO. Cooking time is short, somewhere around 15 minutes at 450 degrees, but don't quote me on that.

The real trick to is to remove the bones from the oven before the marrow completely melts away. That's the danger. When you lift the bones from the pan, if the marrow stays in the bone, you're doing okay.

The next tricky part is actually eating the marrow. We like to spread the marrow on toast with some herbs and EVOO. However, we didn't have spoons narrow enough to fit in the bone, so we poked it out with chop sticks! Mmmmmm.

This meal was served as an appetizer to salmon, kale, and brown rice. 


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mom's Georgian Tolma

I previously posted a little blurb about my mom's Georgian Tolma (which resembles Turkish dolma) and I finally got a chance to make it. So, without further ado, let's begin.

Serves about 8 (depending on how much people eat).

Ingredients
Vegetables you can stuff
  • Sweet peppers (any color you like, mom usually gets red and green)
  • Small cabbage leaves
  • Small collard green leaves (if you have large leaves you can cut them down to size)
  • Eggplants 
  • Tomatoes (pulp removed)
Filling
  • 1 pound of ground beef or 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground pork
  • Tomato pulp
  • Finely minced: onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and basil
  • 1/3 cup uncooked rice 
Stock
  • 1 box (1 quart) of chicken broth or boiled water
  • 1/2  onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (optional, it will make the color richer)
  • Salt to taste
Preparing vegetables to be stuffed
First, you will need to soften the cabbage leaves and collard greens in boiling water so that they are easy to roll when stuffed.
  • Blanch 10 cabbage leaves at a time in boiling water until soft enough to form into rolls (about 5 minutes). Trim the thick portion of the stem (but do not remove completely) so that the leaf is easier to roll (see Figure 1).
  • Blanch 10 collard green leaves as you did the cabbage leaves, but this time it should take less than 5 minutes until soft. 
Figure 1: Blanching the cabbage leaves in boiling water, trimming the stem, and rolling the stuffed leaf.

If you're using eggplant and tomatoes, cut off the top and then remove the insides to create space for the filling. Save the tops and set aside. They will be replaced after stuffing.

Filling preparation
  • Mix all the filling ingredients by hand 
  • Add 1/2 cup of water and then mix again by hand
  • Next, if using peppers, eggplant, or tomatoes, add the filling to the hollowed interior. If using cabbage or collards, roll the filling as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Stuffing the vegetables.

Stock preparation
  • Sauté chopped onions in olive oil in a large pot
  • Add 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes
  • Add 1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
  • Simmer the contents for 3 minutes and then add stuffed vegetables (Figure 3).
  • Add boiled water or chicken broth to just barely cover the stuffed vegetables.
  • Add salt to taste and cover the pot. Let it come to a boil and then simmer until rice is cooked, about 30-40 minutes. 
Figure 3: Placing stuffed vegetables in the pot. 

Finally, the dish is complete. We served it with fresh cucumber salad and bread. Enjoy!