Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Caramelized Onion Relish

The women in my family are particularly fond of onions – all varieties. It doesn’t matter how they’re prepared either – sautéed, boiled, broiled, grilled, stuffed – or just plain raw. 

Here’s an onion recipe inspired by my maternal grandmother. She was a master at making fresh red pepper paste that went into just about everything, including this recipe. 
Caramelized onions offer an amazing sweetness that ultimately impart a most- tantalizing flavor to so many dishes.

Caramelized Onion Relish

Caramelized Onion Relish

5 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
3 Tbsp. mild red pepper paste (available in most Middle Eastern stores) diluted in 2 Tbsp. water (NOTE: 3 Tbsp. tomato paste with a dash of paprika and/or cayenne pepper can be substituted)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried mint, crushed
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
½ tsp. Aleppo red pepper (or ½ tsp. paprika)

Use a mandoline to evenly slice onions.

1. Sautė thinly sliced onions in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn golden brown. This will take about 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. (This helps to draw moisture from the onions which aids in the caramelization process.) Cook and stir for another 5 minutes.
Onions begin to caramelize.
Red pepper paste mixture

2. In a small bowl, blend together the red pepper paste, water, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and seasonings. Add the mixture to the onions, stirring occasionally; cook for about 3 to 5 more minutes. Adjust seasonings and add a bit more olive oil, if necessary.

How To Serve:
We most-often serve this as a topping for bulgur pilaf, but it can be combined with warm, cooked potatoes, or added to tomato sauce for pasta. For an ultra -special treat, top a freshly baked lahmajoun with it, or slather it on a juicy lamb burger!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Day of Remembrance ...

As we begin our summer season on Memorial Day, let us remember the men and women who died while serving our country.

We thank and salute you!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Yogurt with Honey, Sour Cherry Preserves, and Crushed Pistachios

What do you do when guests are coming for dinner, and the dessert that’s planned can’t be made because a key ingredient is unavailable? Come up with ‘Plan B’, of course!

That’s what happened this past weekend; I was in a dessert bind. Unknowingly, Douglas, my sous chef, came to the rescue!  Earlier in the week, Doug felt like having a simple, yet special for dessert, so he went to the refrigerator and whipped up a yogurt dish. 

We always have plain yogurt, honey, and pistachio nuts on hand; that’s a given. When Doug realized we still had some Noyan Sour Cherry Preserves leftover from his martini project, he knew he had the makings of a winning dessert. Trust me, it was sublime!
Doug's 'Yogurt with Honey, Sour Cherry Preserves, and Pistachios
Recalling this successful, impromptu delight, I followed suit, making Doug’s “Yogurt with Honey, Sour Cherry Preserves, and crushed Pistachios”.

Here’s how to make it …

Yogurt with Honey, Sour Cherry Preserves, and Crushed Pistachios
Serves 4 to 5

2 cups of rich, creamy plain yogurt (any kind will do, really, as long as it’s plain and of good quality)
Sour Cherry Preserves (we used Noyan brand from Armenia which is usually found in Middle Eastern stores)
Garnish: A few tablespoons of crushed pistachio nuts

Step #2
1. Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl.
2. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. honey into the yogurt, and whisk until blended.
3. Distribute the yogurt into 4 or 5 individual serving bowls.
4. Spoon a little of the sour cherries with some of the liquid on top of the yogurt.
5. Garnish each with crushed pistachios and serve.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

AGENCHIK SOUP - A specialty from Musa Dagh


Just in from Sonia Tashjian… another recipe representing Musa Dagh, my maternal grandparents homeland.

Sonia wrote:
“Have you heard about AGENCHIK (aganch means “ear” ) soup? It’s a Musadaghian traditional soup. The name of the food comes from the shape of the (dumplings which resemble an ear and are added to the soup). Although the ingredients are simple, and the taste is delicious, it is very laborious (to prepare).”

If you’re up to the task, here is the recipe for …
Agenchik Soup from Sonia Tasjian

Ingredients and Directions for the Dough:
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of vinegar
Dash of salt
flour as needed
Combine the liquid ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the salt and enough flour to form a soft, non- sticky dough. Set aside.

Preparation of the meat-filled dumpling
Ingredients for the Filling:
300 gr (about 2/3 lb.) of minced (ground) meat
1 onion, chopped
Allspice, to taste
red and black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley (if desired)
Ingredients for the Soup:
1 L. (about 4 cups) of matsuni (madzoon/yogurt)
50 gr (about 3 Tbsp.) of butter
1 tablespoon of flour (or one egg)
1 tablespoon of mint

1. Cook the chopped onion with the meat (until onions are soft and the meat is browned. Drain any excess fat. Add the spices & a little amount of water if needed.  Let it cool.
2. Knead the dough, then open it with a rolling pin. Cut circles 3.5 cm (about 1 ½ in.) in diameter, put the filling, close it, by shaping a semicircle, then pinch the edges. Bake them in the oven (set to about 350°F), until they (begin to brown).
3. Then prepare the soup: Mix the matsuni with the flour (or an egg) & bring to the boil. Then add 1 L. (about 4 cups) of boiling water & the butter.
Add the baked dumplings to the soup & serve mint on top.

NOTE: There are three different kinds of soups to in which to add the agenchiks (dumplings)…
1.- In tanabur (only matsuni with mint)
2.- Matsuni & tomato paste mixed soup (it's special only for Musadaghian kitchen) + lemon + mint + garlic
3.- Tomato & pepper paste + garlic + mint + lemon