Ashe Anar | Pomegranate Soup & it all started 10 Years ago TODAY!

This thick main course pomegranate soup, Ashe Anar, will hit all your exotic taste buds with pomegranate molasses, yellow split peas, mint leaves and lamb meatballs.

I know everyone is going green today for Saint-Patrick’s Day, but my mind is on a much more important event. Today is a milestone in my life, a reason for great celebration! Ten years ago on this very day I hosted my very first dinner outing under the group Cheap Ethnic Eatz. That dinner group planted the seed for this blog a few months later. The first dinner was held at a now gone Iranian and Iraqi restaurant. In honor of that first dinner, I present to you this Ashe Anar recipe, a Iranian and Iraqi Pomegranate Soup with lamb meatballs. March 20th 2017 it also the Persian New Year. Happy Nowruz!

Ashe Anar pomegranate soup and fruit

Ashe Anar pomegranate fruit

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Savor Peruvian cuisine at Mochica for MTL à TABLE

MTL à TABLE has arrived in Montreal! You can now sample 150+ restaurants at very fair set prices. And this particular culinary trip takes us to Peru at Mochica.

Let’s face it, November is a depressing month. The cold weather slowly sets in, the sky is grey and trees look sad and naked without leaves. You almost wish for a snowfall to cover the brown landscape.

Thankfully, for the past four years now, a ray of foodie sunlight has brought warmth and joy to the month of November in Montréal, Québec. Happiness envelops Montréal when MTL à TABLE arrives.

Mochica

Restaurant Mochica: fine Peruvian dining

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Lamb Bone Broth: follow your gut

Mineral and gelatin packed bone broths are so good for you and they taste wonderful. Today we will make Lamb Bone Broth but with a most unexpected bone segment, the head.

Soooooo remember back in April I had challenged myself to drink homemade bone broth every day for 1 month? And I blogged about it twice with recipes? And then I went on a cruise and life happened! Well I did indeed complete my 1 month challenge but somehow I never got around to post my two final bone broth recipes. Wait no more here is the third one and the fourth will follow in August.

I have to admit something to you to. I am a little scared to post the next two recipes. Why? Because they are – how should I say – graphic in nature when it comes to unusual animal carcass parts! The fish recipe is obviously made with fish skeletons but they are whole with head, fins and tail. Today’s bone broth recipe is made with lamb – a lamb’s entire head!

Lamb Bone Broth

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Moroccan Tagine Berber

The ultimate fragrant Moroccan stew, a Tagine Berber is my idea of comfort food with aromatic meat served alongside big juicy pieces of vegetables.

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose two savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. Get your camel ready as we are exploring Morocco this month with a traditional Tagine Berber.

Tagine Berber

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Maraq Fahfah (Somali Soup)

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose a savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make.

This month we are exploring Djibouti and I chose to go with the Maraq Fahfah (or Somali soup).

Somali Maraq Fahfah Soup

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The Greek Moussaka

When you start exploring more exotic foods you realize pretty soon that your local Chinese, Japanese, Greek and ethnic etc. restaurants are bastardized versions made for the North American palate. You may find the small gem family run restaurant that serves more authentic dishes or you can really find out what the true cuisine of a country is when on holiday. Greek food is a perfect example. When I was there many moons ago I ate grilled octopus, devoured lams stews, enjoyed moussakas and drank frappes in large quantities. No souvlakis or gyros in sight. I tell you the food and the islands there are so gorgeous I should consider moving there and start looking to find the best mortgage deals.

Moussaka was actually something I discovered first in a Greek restaurant in Montreal, not in Greece. I still remember the first time I ate it and immediately associated as extreme comfort food. Of course I would choose an ethnic dish as comfort food and not something closer to home! Now when I go to a Greek restaurant, if moussaka is on the menu chances are that is what I will order. Warning: moussaka is not the most photogenic food but it is amazing.

One day I came across a recipe for Greek Moussaka. Remember the days when gas stations gave out free stuff like glasses and plastic containers? It was pretty lame stuff usually but at one point one company (can’t remember which one) was giving away a series of little cookbooks. My parents had that whole collection. One of the books was fancy recipes for dinner parties and in it was this recipe below. I first made it about 15 years ago and I keep going back to it because it is the best moussaka I ever ate, hands down. I don’t have a source as I wrote down the recipe in a personal book a decade ago and my mom no longer has the cookbook.

Contrary to popular belief, moussaka is not solely a Greek dish but a dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Each country and/or region has a different spin on it, with a common base of sauteed eggplant, tomato and usually minced meat. But the one we are the most familiar with is the Greek one, which is characterized by lamb meat spiced with cinnamon and a top layer of Bechamel sauce with nutmeg.

The Greek moussaka is believed to be invented by Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef considered one of the most influential chefs of the early 1900s who modernized Greek cuisine and published many influential Greek cookbooks.

Ξ Greek Moussaka Ξ

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants
salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs. ground lamb (or beef)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tsp. nutmeg

Directions:

Slice the eggplants in to 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the bitterness. In a skillet over med-high heat, heat 1 tsp. approx of olive oil per batch. Quickly fry the eggplant until browned. Set aside.

In a skillet heat the remaining olive oil, add onion and saute until semi-translucent. Add the ground lamb (or beef) and brown until the pink color disappears. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add the parsley.

In a 9×13 inch baking pan, sprinkle evenly half the breadcrumbs, layer half the eggplant slices, spread half the meat sauce and sprinkle half the grated Parmesan. Repeat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the Bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and allow the flour to cook for a minute. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, then the cottage cheese and nutmeg.  Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Pour the Bechamel sauce on top of the layers, smooth the sauce evenly with a spatula and allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the sauce has a golden color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

 

 

Delectable BBQ Sliced Rosemary Lamb

I am away for a little bit to frolic in the country…..enjoy this scheduled post and I look forward to posting upon my return.

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Have you learned to love a certain food over time…a food you really disliked at first that now you enjoy? I like best the descriptive Acquired Taste expression to explain this phenomena.  I know I have my fair share of such foods I rejected on firts bite as a child and now adore. My part list includes blue cheese, oysters, anchovies, eggplant and lamb by a long shot.

Oh that repulsive wooly gamey taste in my youth, I hated it. Now I know that lamb only tastes like that when the lamb is slaughtered past the 1 year mark. That is when the taste gets stronger and the meat tougher. I clearly remember the day I was courageous and ordered the first piece of lamb I loved. It was at a restaurant specializing in cuisine from Brittany. The Lamb came from l’Ile Verte, an island in the Saint- Laurence river, where the lambs fed in a salted march. It was also served like a filet mignon. It was divine and I have eating lamb without fear ever since.

I was preparing a very simple dinner with lamb,  a meat I do not buy often but it was 30% off. It turned out to be one of the best lamb dishes I have ever tasted in my life. It was a Foodgasm! The incredibly easy  and quick to prepare marinade knocked my socks of and paired with lamb perfectly. Let the meat marinate for one hour and them cook 3 min on each side on the BBQ.

Ξ BBQ Sliced Rosemary Lamb Ξ

4 slices of lamb leg butt
2 clove of garlic cut in 2 lengthwise
4tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut excess fat around the slice, rub each side of the steaks with the halved garlic
  2. Mix well remaining ingredients in a bowl. Marinate the meat in the sauce for 2 hours
  3. Pre-heat your BBQ to 400F.
  4. Cook for 3 minutes on each side – this timing will give you a medium rare meat.

I bought this weekend some zucchini flowers for the first time ever. Now I realize they were maybe not bloomed enough beauty wise and since they may not be good upon my return I decided to do a quick grill with them since I could only find fried or stuffed recipes online which was not going to happen at 9 pm at night!

All I did was mix a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar together, with a touch of garlic salt and pepper and them dipped the blooms in like a paint brush to coat the flowers. After 3min on the BBQ they are done. They were very tasty and I look forward to experimenting more with this flower. how pretty are they with red currants lazying about the dish.