Naan Khamei (Iranian Cream Puffs)

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Raise your hand if you grew up salivating over these at every mehmooni. These cream puffs are giant to the max and fluffy to the max, with just a hint of fragrant rosewater.

Be patient mixing the dough on this — it’ll look like it’ll never come together, but it will. And the wait will be worth it, I promise.

These cream puffs are best eaten fresh the day of.

Naan khamei

Ingredients:

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon rose water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the dough:

1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rose water
1 cup flour, sifted
4 room temperature eggs

For the dusting:

1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1. To prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar, rose water, and vanilla, and whip at high speed until soft peaks form. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.

2. To make the dough: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, salt, and butter, and bring to a boil, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add the vanilla and rose water. Reduce heat to very low and add the flour, all at once, stirring constantly (3 to 5 minutes), until you have a stiff paste.

4. Remove the dough from the heat and continue to stir for 4 or 5 minutes to help the dough cool down.

5. Make sure the temperature of the dough is around 150F degrees at this time and add 1 egg to the dough and stir for 1 minute. The dough should become glossy and silky. Continue to stir for another minute until the egg has been absorbed and the dough is no longer glossy. Continue adding the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring each time an egg is added until the dough is no longer glossy. The dough should be light, smooth, and airy.

6. Bake the cream puffs: Use an ice cream scoop to drop 12 equal portions of the dough onto the 2 prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each dollop. Bake for 20 minutes.

7. Without opening the oven door, reduce the heat to 350F degrees and continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the puff pastries are golden.

8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

9. Just before serving, use a serrated knife to cut through the pastries crosswise. Use a pastry bag to squeeze the chilled filling into the pastry, dividing between the 12 pastries. Dust the tops with powdered sugar and serve.

Crab cakes with Basil-Jalapeno Aioli

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Dungeness crab seasons ends this week, but there’s still time to get in one more crab recipe before it’s over. This crab cake recipe features corn, basil, and jalapenos, making it a perfect bridge between cold weather and warm weather cooking. Serve these as an elegant appetizer or as a light dinner alongside salad.

(Looking for a more classic crab cake recipe? I got you.)

Crab cakes with basil-jalapeno aioli

Ingredients:

For the crab cakes:

3 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Dungeness crab meat
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 egg
3 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
Pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

For the aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

1. In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the green onions and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until softened. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the crabmeat, corn, bread crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and pepper to taste; mix well. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and form into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place the patties on a plate and chill for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together all of the aioli ingredients and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Dredge each crab cake in the cornmeal, turning to coat evenly. Sear the cakes for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve crab cakes hot with Basil-Jalapeno Tartar Sauce.

Torshi Tareh (Iranian Chive and Herb Braise)

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Torshi tareh is the dish I never knew existed but always wanted. Hailing from Iran’s Caspian Sea area, it’s a regional speciality much like saag paneer — but with eggs instead of cheese. Chock-full of greens, it’s worth seeking out the namesake tareh in this recipe. Tareh are Persian chives (also called Persian leeks). If you can’t find these, a mix of green onions and garlic chives make a reasonable substitute.

Torshi tareh

Ingredients:

For the braise:

2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cups Persian chives (or substitute with green onions and garlic chives), roughly chopped
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons rice flour dissolved in 1 cup water

For the eggs:

3 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
6 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup lime juice

1. To make the braise: Place all of the herbs and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in an enameled cast-iron pot. Transfer the herb mixture to the pot and saute over medium heat for a few minutes.

3. Add salt, turmeric, 1 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Add the diluted rice flour and give it a stir. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

4. Make the eggs: Heat the remaining 3 teaspoons oil in a skillet over low heat until hot. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until lightly golden.

5. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the salt, pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon until just blended.

6. Just before serving. Add the egg mixture to the garlic in the skillet and saute for a few minutes, stirring until you have soft scrambled eggs.

7. Add the eggs and the lime juice to the braise in the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Serve warm with rice.

Chicken Piccata with Olives and Artichokes

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I love this chicken piccata recipe because it combines the best of both worlds: crunchy fried chicken and tangy, briny vegetables. This dish is easier to make than it looks and it’s perfect for springtime, showcasing tender artichokes — but without all of the prep.

Chicken piccata with olives and artichokes

Ingredients:

1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Eight 6-ounce chicken cutlets, about 1/8 inch thick
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
16 pitted kalamata olives, drained and coarsely chopped
1 jar marinated artichokes (about 1 1/2 cups), drained and quartered
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken cutlets in the seasoned bread crumbs.

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil over moderately high heat. When the foam subsides, add the chicken to the skillets (working in batches if needed) and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown outside and white throughout, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a platter.

3. Wipe out the skillet and add the olives and artichoke hearts. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until heated through. Add the chicken stock, lemon juice and capers and boil for 1 minute, stirring. Spoon the artichoke and olive sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the parsley and immediately.

Strawberry-Mint Agua Fresca

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My favorite thing about this strawberry agua fresca (outside of it being immensely refreshing) is the Persianity factor. The Iranian vibes are strong with this one, my friend: a generous addition of not just mint but heady rosewater takes this agua fresca to the next level.

You’ll be sipping this all spring (and summer). Happy strawberry season.

Strawberry-mint agua fresca

1 pound strawberries, trimmed
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon rosewater
Club soda
Lime wheels, for serving (optional)

1. Puree strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, agave nectar, rose water, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a container, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2. Skim off any foam from surface and pour puree into four serving glasses filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheels.