Thursday, August 30, 2007
Stuffed with Upgrades/ Farcies avec Options
I gave up trying to keep up with my younger brother’s slang. I avoid employing the ones that used to be trendy at the time when I was in high school, because he would laugh at me. He makes me feel “outdated” and he is only three years younger than me.
When I was about sixteen or seventeen and my parents would leave us alone at home for the day, I was the one in charge of cooking lunch. My brother hated it. Not my cooking, but my taking over the kitchen without my mother in sight meant one thing: recipes experimentations. My recipes involved greens, tons of vegetables and sweet and savory dishes. In other words, all what my brother hates.
When we set at the table, he would ask me with mockery: “So how do you call this dish?”
Me: “ blablabla…”
Him: “ Well it does have some upgrades, doesn’t it?”
Me: “Upgrades? What do you mean?”
Him: “Options, the real deal, the juicy stuff… I am talking about meat!”
My brother is a big meat lover. Just go ahead and give him any kind of dish that engages big chunks of meat, red meat preferably, and he will praise your cooking skills for the rest of the day. Luckily, he has learned to appreciate other dishes that don’t systematically involve meat. This dish is one of his favorites. I know he would rather have it without dried fruits but everyone has his or her own upgrades.
I usually cook pilaf rice, but was intrigued this time by Chelo, the Iranian steamed rice.
The traditional way of cooking Chelo is soaking the rice in salted water for a minimum of 2 hours, draining then cooking it in fresh water; and then “steaming” it for 40 min with some butter in a pan covered with a lid and a dishtowel. The corners of the dishtowel are then folded over the lid.
The rice becomes soft and fluffy, never soggy and sticky.
This is a quicker method of cooking Chelo. Don’t skimp on the soaking time, though. A minimum of 30 min is required to soften the grains and improves the flavour of the finished dish. You can use either basmati rice or long grain rice. I used ground lamb to stay in the Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern theme, but you can use ground beef, ground turkey or even no meat at all if you are a vegetarian.
Stuffed Globe Zucchinis
- 4 globe zucchinis
- 1 spanish onion, finely minced
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ lb ground lamb (or beef)
- ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 turnip, diced
- 1 tbsp golden raisin
- 5 dried apricots, diced
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- Salt, pepper
- For the Persian rice:
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 oz basmati rice
- 1 ½ tbsp butter
Place the water and salt in a pan and pour in the rice. Set aside to soak for at least 30 min and up to 2 hours. Bring the water and rice to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15min, until the water is absorbed.
Add the butter to the rice. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and steam over a very low heat for about 30 min.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the lamb and sauté quickly just to give it a nice color. Add the onion, turnip and season with salt and black pepper. Pour in the stock, cover and let it simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 15 min. Uncover the pan, add the dried fruits and let the liquid reduces. Sprinkle some cilantro on top of the meat mixture and combine with the rice prepared earlier. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the top off the zucchinis. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh out of the zucchinis. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside on a greased baking pan.
Spoon the rice and meat mixture to the zucchinis; place the top on each of them. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the zucchinis are tender, when poked with a toothpick, about 30min. Let it cool slightly and serve.
Courgettes Rondes Farcies
In francais please:
- 4 courgettes rondes
- 1 oignon blanc, finement hache
- 1 c.s d’huile vegetale
- 1 navet, coupe en petits des
- 400g d’agneau hache
- 100 ml de bouillon de volaille ou legumes
- 1c.s de raisin secs
- 5 abricots secs, coupe en des
- 1 c.s de coriandre hache
- Sel, poivre
- Pour le riz Perse:
- 375ml d’eau
- ½ c.c de sel
- 175g de riz basmati
- 20g de beurre
Mettre, l’eau, le sel et le riz dans une casserole. Laisser tremper au moins 30 min ou jusqu’a 2 heurs. Porter le riz a ebullition, puis reduire le feu et laisser cuire pendant 10-15 min juqu’a ce que l’eau soit absorbe.
Ajouter le beurre mais sans le melanger. Couvrir la casserole fermement d’un couvercle, puis faites cuire sur feu tres doux pendant 30 min.
Entre temps, faites chauffer l’huile dans une poele. Ajouter la viande et faites sauter rapidement. Ajouter l’oignon, le navet et assaisonner de sel et de poivre. Couvrir du bouillon et laisser cuire jusqu’a ce que la viande soit completement cuite, environ 15 min. Ajouter les fruits secs at laisser le liquide reduire sur feu vif. Parsemer les feuilles de coriandre au dessus. Melanger la viande au riz et mettre de cote.
Prechauffer le four a 200C. Couper le chapeau de chaque courgette et mettre de cote. Vider les courgettes a l’aide d’un cuillere. Assaisonner l’interieur de sel, poivre et mettre les courgettes dans un plat allant au four, legerement huile. Remplir les courgette du mélange riz-viande. Couvrir le plat d’une feuille d’alluminium et faites cuire jusqu’a ce que les courgettes deviennent tendres quand on les perce avec un cure-dents, environ 30min. Laisser refroidir legerement et servir.