Last Saturday afternoon surprisingly I has very little or nothing to do. The newest issue of the journal of which I an associate editor was ready to go live; it was now in the hands of our amazing webmaster. I went crazy and finally dusted my desk covered with after four months of construction dust (we have another month before the house is our own again – and there will be loads more dusting and deep cleaning). I also dusted and swept much of the neglected house.
I had eggplants begging to be cooked and had downloaded a number of promising recipes. I chose to go Persian for dinner starting with a soup. Both recipes came from a recent posting of the Jewish Food Society* (Credits to the Elyashar family of Los Angeles) https://www.jewishfoodsociety.org/posts/2021/10/14/recipes-from-a-persian-jewish-community-that-knows-it-all (go to this link for the story and recipes). Along the way, I made some changes and adjustments according to what was on hand and my family’s tastes.
*A few months ago, some of my Greek-Jewish family recipes were featured by Jewish Food Society – https://www.jewishfoodsociety.org/posts/2021/6/10/a-jewish-greek-eggplant-recipe-that-found-its-way-to-jamaica-and-beyond
Hamadani Style Gondi Berenji. This is a rich soup based on a chicken broth with rice-studded meatballs. Earlier in the week, I’d pulled all of my frozen vegetable trimmings from the freezer to make a vegetable broth. For this soup, I added some chicken wings, also found in the freezer. Another change that I made was to use only one pound of meat, ground lamb in place of ground beef.
Eggplant Tachin. At recent food distributions we’ve been flooded with eggplants and cucumbers. These were the last of eggplants. I followed most of the recipe, save the topping. Some tips on the instructions, it does take a bit of coordination, but it’s really worth the effort.
Basmati rice. Follow the instructions and wash and soak this precious grain. You will be rewarded with the most lovely, gracefully long, single grains so very different for the plebian long grained rice.
The spices. A recent zoom cooking presentation discussed mentors and who we learned our skills from. Marcia Gregg and her husband, were US AID workers in Jamaica where I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Nepal was one of the many places they had served. She taught me that certain spices should be more or less carefully fried not just dumped into pan and moved around. This brings out amazing aromas as well as much deeper flavors.
Folding. If you are of a certain age and were inflicted with Home Economics class long ago in high school, one of the first cooking skills learned was folding. This gentle circular movement using a wooden spoon gently and thoroughly mixes ingredients. I do not remember my Home Ec teacher’s name, but I remember folding. I also remember I was the first in class to break an egg! And I distinctly remember that I elected to take Home Ec II in my final year of school. Several of us were called in to the principal’s office to be told that we were college-bound (remember the certain age) and would certainly find our husbands there. The principal “asked” us to cede our places in class to “girls” who would need cooking to lure a mate. I opted for “shop”; I only remember that I learned how to tool leather. So long ago.
The eggplant dish calls for two egg yokes. Friday night’s dinner was another recently found recipe for Mushroom Carbonara – https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushroom-carbonara. Two boxes of mushrooms were languishing in the fridge. With a side salad, it was a light meal.
I combined the four egg whites from the pasta dish with the two from the tachin and made a family favorite, pavlova. What better to serve with the seasonal fresh fruits – starfruit and strawberries.
Are you following the current season of the British baking show? We were in shock to see the week with pavlova! Mine, though not piped and utterly lovely, would have made the grade – crunchy exterior with marshmallow-like interior.
And the showstopper jaconde cakes that some bakers finished with jellies in that same episode … I made that a few months ago for the memorial service of a dear friend … I think this was a hibiscus tea jelly. The cake was simply topped with powdered sugar. Maybe I’ll try to jaconde one of these days.