Cheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

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I’ve generally shied away from making biscuits because, quite frankly, I suck at it. I over-knead the dough, I don’t add enough butter, and my final product is usually hard baked disks of crumbly flour.

Except for these biscuits. Flecked with bits of cheddar cheese and green onions, they’re a cinch to make, even for someone like me. Good luck eating just one.

Cheddar-green onion biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus 1 tablespoon melted
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup buttermilk, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Using your fingers, work cold butter into flour mixture until butter is in small, flattened pieces and mixture is crumbly. Stir in green onions and cheese. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, and stir just until dough comes together, adding up to 1/4 cup additional buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. (Dough should be neither sticky nor crumbly.)

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead 3 to 4 times just to bring dough together. Pat dough into an 8- x 6-inch rectangle; fold 1 short side a third of the way over toward center. Fold opposite short side over folded end (business letter fold). Rotate dough clockwise 90 degrees; pat out dough into a 8×6-inch rectangle, and repeat folding procedure. Pat dough out into an 8×6-inch rectangle (3/4 to 1 inch thick); cut dough into 8 rectangular biscuits.

3. Place each biscuit rectangle on baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake biscuits in oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Ash-e Reshteh (Iranian Noodle Soup)

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Norooz, or Iranian New Year, means a few things: joyous gatherings with family, spring cleaning, and the celebration of the vernal equinox. Norooz is also about food: fresh fish, rice pilafs and frittatas redolent with herbs and spring greens to celebrate renewal and rebirth, desserts to ring in a sweet new year, and my favorite: ash-e reshteh.

Ash-e reshteh is traditionally served on the new year, with the noodles symbolizing good fortune. My mom’s ash-e reshteh is my favorite and this year, I finally learned how to cook it. Chock-full of reshteh (special Iranian noodles), kashk (a fermented dairy product similar to whey), loads of herbs like parsley, spinach, and green onions, legumes, dried mint, and garlic, there’s no substituting here. Get thee to an Iranian grocery and make this delicious, meal-in-a-bowl soup to celebrate the coming of warmer weather and new beginnings.

Ash-e Reshteh (Iranian Noodle Soup)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked, and cooled
10-12 cups water
1 cup lentils, cooked and cooled
1 pound Iranian noodles (reshteh)
1 tablespoon flour
2 bunches chopped green onions
2 bunches chopped parsley
2 pounds chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups liquid kashk
4 tablespoons dried mint, crushed

1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large pot and sautee the onions and garlic over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric. Once golden, set aside 1/3 of onion mixture for garnish. Leave the remaining onion mixture in the pot and add lentils and chickpeas; saute for a few minutes. In the meantime, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a separate small saucepan and once hot, add the dried mint and quickly saute for 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat and set aside for garnish.

2. Pour in 10 cups of water and bring to a boil, then add all of the greens, bring to a boil again, reduce the heat, and cook on low, covered, for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the noodles to the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, covered, on low heat, stirring occasionally. At this stage, add one teaspoon of the reserved dried mint oil garnish to the pot.

4. In the meantime, mix 1 cup cold water and the flour in a small bowl and drizzle the mixture into the pot of soup, stirring. Cook for 20 minutes, covered, on low heat, stirring occasionally.

5. Stir in the kaskh, setting aside a dollop or two for the garnish. Mix the kaskh in the pot well.

6. To serve, pour the hot soup into a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved onion and garlic mixture, reserved dried mint mixture, and reserved kashk.

Egg and Lamb Sausage Wraps

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When I was a kid I used to take lavash bread, stuff it with leftovers like kababs or goosht koobideh, add some Iranian pickles and Tapatio to the wrap and call it an Iranian burrito. I am, after all, a hyphenated Californian-Iranian.

This wrap is the grown up version: a griddled whole wheat tortilla takes the place of lavash, a garlicy yogurt sauce replaces the tapatio, and the filling is all sabzi khordan, egg, and sausage. They’re easy to make and even easier to eat.

Egg and lamb sausage wraps

Ingredients:

8 eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, grated
Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lamb sausage, preferably merguez, casings removed
4 large whole-wheat flour tortillas
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
8 Iranian pickled cucumbers, thinly sliced crosswise on the diagonal
3 cups basil and/or mint leaves

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add eggs and cook 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water with a slotted spoon; let cool. Peel eggs, then slice each crosswise into 4 pieces.

2. In the meantime, mix yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl; season with salt.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add sausage and press down on it with a wooden spoon to flatten; cook, undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn sausage over; break into smaller pieces with spoon. Cook until cooked through and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl. Reserve skillet.

4. Lay out tortilla on a work surface. Spread 1/4 cup yogurt sauce over each, leaving a border. Top with sausage, dividing evenly. Top each with 8 egg slices in a single layer, then with red onion, pickles, and mint. Fold in 2 sides of tortilla and starting at an unfolded edge, roll up tightly.

5. Set reserved skillet over medium heat and cook 2 wraps until golden brown and starting to crisp underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side. Transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with remaining wraps. Cut wraps in half crosswise and serve.

Turkey Meatball and Noodle Soup

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I love Asian-style meatballs. You know, the fish balls or meat balls you often find in noodle soups. They’re delicious. But if you’ve ever seen them at the market, the pre-packaged kind are also full of preservatives. In this soup, I made the meatballs from scratch, using grass-fed turkey and the results were better than the store-bought version. A chicken stock base and a drizzle of chili oil lends flavor to a hearty soup that’s perfect in January.

Turkey meatball and noodle soup

Ingredients:

4 shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh Chinese wheat noodles
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped kimchi
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chili oil

1. In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.

2. Bring medium-sized pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and drain again.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the meat, cornstarch, sesame oil, and salt in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Scoop the meatball mixture out into a bowl. With wet hands, roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Arrange the meatballs on a plate.

4. To make the soup, in a medium pot, combine the broth and the vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the meatballs and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and kimchi and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Add the cooked noodles and cook, stirring, until the noodles are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with some green onions, cilantro, and chili oil.

Khmer-Style Rice Soup

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Adapted from a recipe in my weathered copy of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, this rice porridge is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Similar to Singaporean congee or Cantonese jook, it’s got that same stick-to-your-ribs heartiness as any good rice soup should. The garnishes are endlessly adaptable — feel free to adjust to your liking.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 1/2 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat with the side of a heavy blade
1 teaspoon anchovies in oil, drained and minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed flat
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed in cold water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic

For the garnishes:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Thai bird chile, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small bunch Thai or American basil, coarsely torn
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Black pepper
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey with the fish sauce and sugar, mix well, and set aside.

2. Place the water in a large heavy pot over high heat, add the lemongrass, anchovies, and ginger, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the rice and stir until the water returns to a boil. Maintain a gentle boil until the rice is tender (adding more water if necessary to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot), about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat. Remove the lemongrass and ginger.

3. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the turkey and stir-fry, using your cooking spoon to break up any large pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey has cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup and stir in.

4. Make the garnishes: Combine the fish sauce and chile in a condiment bowl and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots to a small bowl and set aside.

6. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with the basil, green onions, some shallots, black pepper, peanuts, and drizzle with the fish sauce-chile mixture. Serve hot.