bok choy and sweet sesame salad, saffron cauliflower

IMG_6588We adapted a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty for this dish, which features bok choy instead of the broccolini Ottolenghi uses. We were unable to find broccolini, however, and so bok choy it was. In my last post, I mentioned that Swiss chard is one of the best vegetables, but bok choy is definitely up there as well. (Have I mentioned that I like dark greens?)

IMG_6594After quickly blanching some green beans and snow peas, we tossed them together in some oil with the very lightly sauteed bok choy. We piled all three vegetables on a serving dish before pouring a tahini-based sauce over the top. I really like the effect of the sauce oozing down and over the vegetables. 

The saffron cauliflower above is the second dish we have to report from Ottolenghi’s Plenty. It was nice to use saffron again, and the combination of ingredients—cauliflower, saffron, red onion, raisins, green olives, bay leaves, and parsley—was a good one. The cauliflower did get overdone, however. In fact, we took it out of the oven after about half of the prescribed roasting time. I’m not really sure what happened there . . .

Anyway, we’ve now completed four recipes from Ottolenghi’s book of Plenty.

saffron brownie

decorated with walnuts, hickory nuts, and mint

This saffron brownie is hard to classify. It is interesting, a word, of course, that says very little. I must admit, I had more fun making this dessert than I did eating it. I (sadly) added too much ground cardamom, which was a bit overpowering. But to call this a “brownie” might be somewhat misleading. Mine turned out like a very thick spread, which wasn’t all that surprising since Batmanglij recommends serving this brownie with bread in addition to serving it alone as a dessert.

I don’t want to sell this brownie short either. It is good in its own way, perhaps. And besides, the brownie looks beautiful.

Further, the technique I learned is amazing. Batmanglij calls this a “halva,” which (apparently) is an incredibly dense dessert. If I make this brownie again, perhaps I wouldn’t need to add a full stick of butter and a cup and a half of canola oil. Ha! Goodness. But anyway, basic technique is: (1) make and set aside a simple syrup, (2) stir a combination of flours into melted fat, (3) stir this thing on the stove for about 25 minutes, (4) add syrup to the fat and flour mixture, (5) stir, stir, stir, and (6) chill. And there you have it. Halva. Or, one variation, it seems.

about ten minutes into stirring the fat and flour mixture

just stirred the syrup into the fat and flour mixture

about three minutes into the “stir, stir, stir” section … I think I stirred it for about six minutes after I poured the syrup into the fat and flour mixture

I have completed 28 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 10.45%

This, I believe, is my last June post. I am very much looking forward to what July brings.

mushroom khoresh

Since owning Batmanglij’s Food of Life, I have been fascinated with its khoreshes, or braises that combine different combinations of meats, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and herbs. There is something about a meal simmering slowly on the stove for a few hours that seems to make everything in the world okay—not that I have been able to master a khoresh just yet.

I came pretty close with the yogurt khoresh. See its photo here. And this mushroom and chicken khoresh is pretty good too. This dish is very delicate. Both the saffron and the lime offer a little something unexpected. Plus, it has mushrooms. And I love mushrooms.

Yet last night, this particular khoresh left a little something to be desired. It was almost a bit too delicate. While making it, I ended up adding more than twice the recommended amounts of both turmeric and cumin, in addition to adding a little extra heat.

Over all, this is a very solid chicken dish—just not, well, extraordinary.

I have completed 25 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 9.33%

saffron rice pudding

decorated with cinnamon, hickory nuts, and orange zest

I was so sure that this pudding was not going to work.

Yet, for the most part, my first rice pudding actually turned out. I simmered the pudding on the stove for an hour longer than Batmanglij suggested. It was not thickening. At all. I was more than a little nervous. The culprit may have been the brown basmati rice, which is fairly hard to break down. On the other hand, perhaps the pudding didn’t need to thicken so much on the stove, and would have done its major thickening in the refrigerator anyway. Not sure.

Regardless, it thickened up eventually. And we ended up with a cool, creamy, even refreshing little dessert. I don’t think of “refreshing” when I think of rice pudding. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever had rice pudding before last night.

This was my second time working with saffron. As far as I can tell so far, saffron has an extremely delicate flavor. It was pretty much crowded out by some of the bolder ingredients in the pudding. I am excited to continue working with this spice. Perhaps I should try it in something simpler next time. If anyone has experience with saffron, I would love to hear your stories!

I used some visiting family members as guinea pigs for this dessert. Apparently, raw pistachios are incredibly hard to find around my hometown, so I decorated the pudding with hickory nuts, a family favorite.

I have completed 23 of Batmanglij’s 268 recipes. Percentage complete: 8.58%