taftun flat bread

taftun bread

December 24, 2012 was a momentous day, for more reasons than one. I made, for instance, this taftun flat bread — the first bread formula that I have attempted since 2008 that is not featured in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It’s ridiculous, but I felt just slightly disloyal as I measured (without a digital scale, no less) the ingredients listed in Najmieh Batmanglij’s Food of Life.

taftun breadBut just slightly.

taftun breadWe served this pita-like bread with a lovely platter of fresh herbs, goat cheese, and toasted nuts. Sadly, no photo of this platter exists — I must re-create it soon! I now have completed 33 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 12.31%

beggar’s soup

Here is yet another dish from Batmanglij’s Food of Life. Soups, I believe, create some of the most divine meals. And Batmanglij’s soups are some of the best. This beggar’s soup is a great one for using up whatever you might have on hand. We used a combination of kidney beans, chickpeas, white northern beans, lentils, brown rice, and lots of spinach and fresh herbs. We also added a bit of red meat for good measure.

I now have completed 32 of Batmanglij’s recipes. Percentage complete: 11.94%

orange khoresh

Finally. Finally, I have made a chicken khoresh that not only was acceptable, but utterly superb. The key is in the thickness of the sauce. And this khoresh’s sauce was beautifully thick. Largely, the sauce was composed of scraped bits of browned meat, a touch of flour, reduced orange juice, and lots of spices (think turmeric, coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper).

We served this khoresh with brown basmati rice and plain Greek yogurt.

Bring on the khoreshes, my friends. I so have this. I now have completed 31 recipes from Batmanglij’s Food of Life. Percentage complete: 11.57%

eggplant khoresh

I now have completed 30 recipes from Batmanglij’s Food of Life (percentage complete: 11.19%). I am very pleased with the presentation of this eggplant khoresh, or braise. Honestly, I think it’s fairly stunning. The eggplant is dark and elegant. The cherry tomatoes add a necessary brightness. And overall, the dish looks nicely roasted; the flavors seem to be melding happily away together.

Yet, despite its lovely appearance, this khoresh tasted like a fairly average chicken dish. It was good, no doubt. But just good, really. And little more. Despite the spices—largely, turmeric, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper—I added, the flavors simply did not seep through to the entire dish. And salt. I even added quite a bit of salt this time, though I usually see little need to use more than a small pinch.

Well, I am determined to cook an extraordinary meat khoresh one of these days, though meat is far from my specialty. Until then, at least I can enjoy the look of the very pretty food!

yogurt & shallot dip

I never used to like dips. I would cringe even at the word, “dip,” imagining those homemade kinds that are made with cream cheese and, well, cream cheese . . . or one of those store-bought kinds with which some people have the tendency to ruin perfectly good vegetables.

This all changed, of course, earlier this summer when I made one of the dips in Batmanglij’s Food of Life. Her dips are absolutely lovely. And the one pictured here contains Greek yogurt, diced shallot, plenty of chopped mint, and salt and pepper. That is it.

This is one of those beautiful summer dishes that takes less than 10 minutes to prep. After 15 minutes of chill-time in the fridge, this dip is ready to go. Serve it with lavash crackers and smoked salmon, and you’ve got yourself a meal. To note, Batmanglij calls for Persian shallots, but I only had those that were growing in the backyard. I have now completed 29 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 10.82%

Who knew that I would fall so completely for dips?