Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

Meatless Monday – Persian Potato Kookoo

March18

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This is super simple to make and delicious and one of my go-to recipes when I have leftover mashed potatoes. What’s a Kookoo? It’s the Persian version (does that rhyme?) of a frittata. Basically, an oven-baked omelette that comes out rather fluffy. This is made with eggs, potatoes, onion, saffron and salt. That’s it. The saffron gives it a subtle, more interesting flavor than a regular potato omelette. Also, all the ingredients are basically mashed/grated/mushed together so you have more of a uniform texture. Here’s how I make it:

INGREDIENTS (makes about 4 servings)

  • Leftover mashed potatoes – about 1-1.5 cups (if you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, just cook about 2 large potatoes in the microwave, get rid of the peel and mash ’em up – just be sure and let them COOL before you put them in the egg mixture)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in a little bit of hot water (or not hot – it doesn’t matter and doesn’t matter if it doesn’t dissolve all the way)
  • 1/2 large onion grated (or one medium one)
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil (doesn’t matter what kind – I’ve used olive and canola before)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. I use a mortar and pestle and grind the saffron. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you could put the saffron stems in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. Dissolve the saffron in a couple of tablespoons of hot water.
  3. Crack your eggs into the bowl with the dissolved saffron.
  4. Grate your onion and add it to this bowl (or grate it on top of the bowl – one less thing to clean!)
  5. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of oil onto the bottom of a 9-inch casserole dish. Stick it in the oven to heat up the oil.
  6. Add salt (about a teaspoon) then whisk/stir – you know, blend it up.
  7. Put the cooled mashed potatoes in the egg mix. Stir till mixed/combined.
  8. When the oven is at 350 and the oil looks hot, remove the casserole dish and pour your egg mixture into it. BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THE CASSEROLE DISH. Why do I warn you about this? Well, cuz I’ve done it before and burned my fingers. See? I put hot pads in the picture to remind you.
  9. Put it in the oven for 30 minutes. The eggs will look set. You may have hot oil bubbling around the sides. That’s normal.

When it’s finished, you can invert the kookoo onto a serving dish and enjoy. True Persians will sprinkle the top with powdered sugar – more for looks than for taste. It’s often served with flatbread and herbs with feta cheese. I’ve made this the centerpiece of many a brunch and served it with fresh fruit and a fruity bread, like a strawberry bread.

Many Persian families eat leftover kookoo cold. I re-heat mine in the microwave. I love it cuz I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And it’s perfect for Meatless Mondays.

There are dozens of varieties of kookoos – you can add spinach, peas, green beans, Persian herb mixtures – and I’ll try and make some and post updates. DISCLAIMER: this is not a food blog. I don’t have a recipe widget. I am most decidedly an amateur. I didn’t even break out a real camera; all photos were shot on my cell phone. I just occasionally share stuff that I find easy to make that still has a bit of a wow factor.

Not that you need pictures to help you with this, but here are a few just in case! Enjoy!

Grind the saffron and dissolve it in a bowl with a bit of water. It’ll look something like this. Note that my saffron did not dissolve very much. ‘Tis OK.

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Mix up the eggs, grated onion, saffron and salt.

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Mix the cooled mashed potatoes in the egg mixture (you can use leftover  mashed potatoes that have butter and milk in them – it won’t hurt this recipe – or you can cook 2 potatoes and mash them fresh, let them cool, then add to this).

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Pour your egg mixture into a casserole dish that has heated oil in it. The oil will come up around your egg mixture like this.

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If you touch this casserole dish while you’re adding your egg mixture, don’t be a dumbass like me – use hot pads.

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This is what it looks like fresh out of the oven, oil bubbling on the sides, top lightly browned.

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Loosen the sides of the kookoo with a knife, or spatula. Invert the kookoo onto a plate. Sometimes this doesn’t work. Use your hot pads to do this obviously.

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Of course, the one time I’m making this for the blog, it did not slide out of the casserole dish so I MacGyvered it; I used a spatula, broke it up into pieces and served it onto a platter.

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Then I started eating it. And just to show you what an amateur I am, you can see I was working on this post while the kookoo was cooking. Had I known I wouldn’t have had a pretty finished shot, I might have skipped the post. But alas, too much work has gone into the post (a lot more work than went into the making of this kookoo) so here ya’ go!

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posted under Food | 4 Comments »

What’s for Dinner: Persian Piroshki (Meat Pies)

October1

My dad used to make these all the time – and even though he’s a vegetarian now, he still makes them for us when we visit. In fact, they’ve become our Christmas Eve dinner staple. We love them because they’re a complete meal in a handy little pocket (think of them as a homemade “Hot Pocket”). Whenever I have leftover Basmati rice (which is to say any time I’ve made Persian or eaten out at a Persian restaurant), I whip up a batch of Piroshkis.

Here’s what you need:

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or whatever kind you like for sauteing)
1 container Grands biscuits (any kind except flakey) – get the can with 8 big biscuits
1 cup of cooked Basmati rice
2 or 3 boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 c to 3/4 c of dried barberries (we get them at Persian grocery stores; I think cranberries would work just as well)
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven according to the biscuit directions. Saute the onions in a little oil over medium heat until they are carmelized and yummy brown. Sprinkle in some salt. Add the ground beef or turkey, salt, pepper, the turmeric, and cinnamon and cook it till it’s brown. No pink spots, especially if you’re using ground turkey.

Dump all that in a mixing bowl with the rice, chopped boiled eggs and barberries. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

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Next, get your grandmother’s wooden rolling pin, sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll those biscuits out until they resemble a long oval. Fill them with two big spoons full of the meat mixture.

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Fold the dough over in half, like you’re making a turnover. Crimp the edges.

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Put them all on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them in the oven however long the biscuit can says to (or until they’re brown). The meat mixture is already cooked so you’re just looking to cook the dough at this point.

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Serve with a salad or something green so you feel like you have a well-balanced meal (haha!).

These re-heat very well wrapped in a paper towel in the microwave for about 20 seconds. I also like them cold. (Thanks to my handsome honey for taking pictures. My hands had way too much flour on them!)

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Works for Me – Make Your Own Pirate Cake

July29

My sister and pirate-loving nephew were just here for a visit that coincided with his fifth birthday. I saw this great pirate cake on Parenting.com and suggested we try and make it. My dad emailed me that it looked really difficult to make. A little chiding and he revealed he’d only looked at the picture, not the directions. If you read the directions, Dad (he’s an engineer; they never read the directions!), you’ll see it’s made with pretzels and candy and is super simple.

So my sis and nephew made the cake (I took the pictures – haha). And while ours didn’t look quite as pretty as theirs, it looked pretty good, don’t you think? One little tip: buy some pirate figurines at the party store and add them to the top. It totally made the cake! And if yours ends up lopsided, as ours did, tell the kids that the ship is just sailing the high seas.

Anyhow, this recipe totally worked for me! (Part of the Works for Me Wednesday series, hosted at WeAreThatFamily. Lots of great tips there every Wednesday.)

THE CAKE FROM PARENTING.COM

OUR VERSION OF THE CAKE (WITH FIGURINES FROM PARTY STORE)

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OH HO HO IT’S A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME! MY NEPHEW HARD AT WORK

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Wanna see more photos? Check out our Facebook page for more shots of the cake-making fun!

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Tech Tuesday – Open Table

July28

Anything that saves me a few minutes is O.K. in my book. Well, almost anything. I can’t be bothered with a hot dog machine, for instance, no matter how much time it saves me.

But OpenTable? I love it! It’s an online restaurant reservation system. Free, of course. Friends coming to town and you’re looking for the perfect place for a large group? Or maybe you have a client you’d like to meet for lunch. Rather than call around to see who has a table, simply click your way around OpenTable. It’s super simple. You can even put in special requests for the restaurant such as “it’s my friend’s birthday” or “table next to the window please” or in my case, “do NOT let my dad pay for the meal no matter what he says.”

Sign up for a free account and earn rewards each time you book through them. Redeem rewards points for dining gift certificates (I’ve just earned a $20 one for doing nothing but booking my reservations online!).

They have great mobile apps, too. I’ve used that many times when I’ve been out and looking for a place to go to lunch. Just pulled up OpenTable on my phone and found the perfect spot.

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Friday Random Round Up

July24

Are you ready for another tour of completely, totally random stuff? Here’s what’s open in my browser right now:

Sprint’s phones. I just bought the Palm Pre and while there are features I love, there are a few things that annoy me enough to consider exchanging it (Sprint lets you test out a phone for 30 days). I want something with good web browsing capabilities, as I often read news on my phone (one of the secrets to how I gather so much random info), a keyboard for all the email and texting I do, and good call quality. I’m thinking about the Blackberry Curve or the HTC Touch Pro.

Good Measure Meals. A local Atlanta thing. They prepare fresh, nutritious meals and deliver them to a gym near your house (or directly to your home if you prefer). They have 1200, 1700, and 2100 calorie meal plans. You can order 5 or 7 day-a-week plans or dinners only. My husband and I just started it and so far, the food has been really impressive. We actually love to cook but found we were eating really late at night because the time we would usually cook and eat was now the time that we fed the baby, played with him, bathed him and put him to bed. We were too tired and it was too late to start cooking after that! Enter Good Measure Meals and our problem is solved.

One Year Birthday Theme. Last week I thought maybe hot air balloons. The week before, I told you all I was thinking about safari or owls. This week, I’m thinking . . . WHEELS! Not Hot Wheels or anything like trucks (yuck yuck yuck) but just some cute wheels. Why? Because my son will take any toy with wheels, turn it over and try and stop the wheels (if it’s motorized). He loves things that spin. So maybe a party with pinwheels and a big wagon wheel type cake . . . I dunno. Any ideas out there for me?

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I Made Homemade Granola

July13

Yesterday, my best friend Terri came over and we made homemade granola. It’s soooo yummy that I think I’ll make it every weekend and quit buying the boxed kind. We tried two different recipes, and preferred this one from the KitchenSink Recipes.

I was going to take pics and show you step-by-step but we really didn’t deviate from the recipe much and her pics are gorgeous, so just do what she tells you and you won’t get hurt.

We made a couple of batches. The first batch burned a bit, so Terri thought we should stir it more often than the recipe suggests. We stirred it every 5 minutes instead of every 10 and it turned out PERFECT. I mean, like seriously yummy.

Granola is really easy to make. It does take a lot of ingredients, but all you do is measure them all and dump them in a bowl, stir it, and spread out on a lined, rimmed cookie sheet. Bake it for 20 minutes (stirring every 5) and you’re done. Super simple. Buy the ingredients in bulk to save money. Besides you’re going to want to make another batch and another and another . . .

I did research granola recipes (I know, shocking that I would research something!) and found that there probably is some magic formula for amount of dry ingredients (nuts, granola) vs. wet ingredients, but I couldn’t really crack the code. USA Today explains the basics well and gives you endless variations. They use wheat germ to create a sort of paste to create clumps in your granola. I didn’t have wheat germ so I went with the KitchenSink recipe. I also tried Giada’s recipe. Hers is also delicious but moister and sweeter. I prefer my granola a bit on the dry side.

The only other thing we did differently from the recipe was add more nuts. It calls for either pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. We used both. It calls for coconut flakes, which Terri and I both hate so we omitted that. I found a yummy dried mixed berry blend at Publix and used that for my fruit.

My husband and I eat ours with a dollop of plain yogurt on top. And lately, since they’re in season, we cut up a peach or nectarine and throw that in there, too. Makes a good breakfast OR dessert! Also makes a great gift. Package it up in a nice, BPA-free storage container, tie a bow around it and voila! Instant hostess gift. The granola keeps for a week or two, but in my experience, it won’t last that long.

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