Monday, November 16, 2009

Afghani Meat Sauce, Bulghur Pilaf with Spinach and Fried Onions, Yogurt Sauce

This meal is hearty, chock-full-of-nutrients, and fairly quick. The meat recipe is one I picked up along the way and the bulghur recipe is from the Almost Turkish blog. The yogurt sauce on the side is optional but it adds a nice balance to the meat. If you want to make the recipes separately, the meat sauce can be served over rice or macaroni, and the bulghur would make a nice side to any meat dish. Feel free to get creative with spices on the meat sauce--I used a seasoning mix from Morocco last time I made it.

Afghani Meat Sauce

1 1/2 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2-3/4 c. hot water
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed
oil for cooking

If you have a pressure cooker, use it to cook the meat. If not, a regular frying pan with a lid will work.

Heat a little oil in the pan and add the meat. Break it up thoroughly while browning. Cook until excess moisture is gone. Add the onions and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and salt. Stir in the tomato paste so that it's completely distributed. Add enough water to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Pressure cook for 12 minutes, or simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Add the crushed garlic and salt to taste and cook for 1-2 more minutes.

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. dried mint
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne

Combine all ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes.

Bulghur Pilaf with Spinach and Fried Onions

1 1/2 c. coarse bulghur
1 box frozen spinach, squeezed out well OR 1 large fresh bunch, washed and chopped
1 large onion, sliced thin
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c. broth
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice

Begin by caramelizing the onions in a large frying pan in 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, with a pinch of salt. Be patient! Keep cooking the onions while you make the pilaf until they are sweet and golden brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the spinach and fry in the oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the spices, salt, broth, and bulghur and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 5 more minutes.

Chop the browned onions and add them to the pilaf.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beef with Kaffir Lime Leaf

This is one of those surprise recipes that emerged from what I had on hand and turned out both delicious and beautiful, much to my surprise. It's a hybrid of a few of my favorite Thai recipes. If you're able to find Kaffir lime leaf, you can keep it in the freezer and it still tastes great. In fact, many Asian groceries keep it in the freezer already. Thai basil is optional, but I had some on hand (if you leave it out, use more lime leaf).

1.5-2 lb. ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 hot Thai peppers, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional but pretty)
4-6 Kaffir lime leaves, julienned very finely
1 small handful Thai basil leaves, chopped (optional)
1tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
a couple of dollops of oyster sauce
4 green onions, cut into 1" pieces
oil for cooking

Brown the meat in a frying pan and break it up as finely as possible. (OR if you have a pressure cooker, cook it for 12 minutes--this makes it extra tender). Place a colander over a bowl and dump the meat into it, reserving the juices.

Add some oil or fat from the beef to the pan and heat it to medium-high. Add 3/4 of the garlic and chilies and fry them until they brown lightly, loosening any meat bits off the bottom of the pan.

Return the meat to the pan and add the salt, fish sauce, and oyster sauce, red peppers, and lime leaves, and stir over medium-high for 2-3 minutes. If there's not enough liquid, add back in some meat drippings.

Stir in the Thai basil and green onion and and remaining garlic, adding more oyster sauce if necessary to season. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Serve over rice.