This past week two ethnic holidays (at least) with strong food associations were celebrated in many places, by many people. First was St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, followed a few days later by the Persian celebration of spring, Nowruz on the 20th. I could say we mark the first because my Aunt Liz was from Ireland. As a young girl, she was always a romantic figure to me with her lilting accent. The second found its way into our home because Constant Companion taught and lived in Iran. Or, simply it’s fun to cook different dishes the family will enjoy!
St Patrick’s Day* was a meal the family has recently come to enjoy – corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes.
Nothing special in the cooking. Perhaps this meal reflects an adage repeated by Mom – keep it simple. The corned beef complete with a spice packet comes directly from Aldi. Submerge everything with water, bring to a boil, and simmer a good three hours. I no longer take the time to trim the fat; it seems to melt away during the slow stove-top cooking. Add a bunch of potatoes (whatever is in the pantry) and wedges of cabbage for the last 45 minutes. Dinner is ready.
*Did you know there is a connection between the Choctaw Nation and Ireland? The latter were forcibly removed from their homes in the American Southeast to Indian Territory (today’s eastern Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi. Nevertheless, in 1847, members of the nation took up a collection and sent $5,000 to Middleton in County Cork to support the Irish during the Potato Famine (https://www.choctawnation.com/bond-remains-strong-between-choctaw-and-irish).
Nowruz was a much more complicated menu … involving much more cooking: one tried and true recipe, two new ones. In the meantime, I went a bit crazy buying wonderful seasonal vegetables for this meal and others in the coming week.
Rather than belaboring the recipes, the links are inserted for your convenience and ease should you want to give any a try. None were really hard to prepare, but true to much ethnic food, complexity is a component to the making.
Fesenjoon was the main course (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020224-khoresh-e-fesenjoon-persian-chicken-stew-with-pomegranate-and-walnuts). This stew can be made with duck or chicken. I used the latter. The aromas from the kitchen were as good as the complex flavors.
Two dishes were gleaned from a recent posting from Epicurious – Rice with Fava Beans and Dill (https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/persian-rice-with-fava-beans-and-dill-baqala-polow) and Celery Stew with Mushrooms ( https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/persian-celery-stew-with-mushrooms-khoresh-e-karafs).
The celery stew was something new to Constant Companion. On rereading the recipe, I see why – the lamb usually used in the recipe was replaced with mushrooms. The long time cooking gave the celery a very nice, soft texture. He particularly enjoyed the broth it was cooked in. I made mistake with the rice and left out the rice*. The dish was still good, but it would have been so much better with this flavor-filled herb.
*Oops, I meant I left out the dill … thank you Constant Companion!
Now spring is in full swing – holidays and cookingwise. Next weekend, our household celebrates Pesach, the springtime commemoration of the Jews leaving Egypt at the time of the Pharoahs. Everyday this week I my agenda is filled with Passover food zoom rooms; the plan is to visit them all and maybe to add to my repertoire of Passover dishes. I’ll share what I learn with you! I know already that some of the zoom lessons will be applied during the week of Passover.