March 18, 2015
Nowruz (Persian New Year), Passover and Easter are approaching, a time when various cultures celebrate and families gather around the table.
Nowruz marks the first day of spring or Equinox and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Some traditional dishes include Dolmeh Barg (grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice and ground lamb) and Shekar Polo (a sweet rice pilaf).
Joojeh Kabob (chicken breast kabob) is a dish that we’ll be featuring at the Persian New Year Dinner offered in LLCC’s Bistro Verde on Thursday. Chef Taiebeh Hosseinali will prepare the meal and explain the customs and traditions of this 3,000-year-old holiday. (Details on how to sign up are at the end of this column.)
Or, if you’d like to try your hand on cooking it at home, here’s the recipe.
* 3 pounds chicken breast, boneless skinless, cut into 2-inch cube
* 1 onion, sliced thin
* 1/4 teaspoon saffron, ground & dissolved in 2 Tbsp. hot water
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, ground
* 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon saffron , ground and dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
For the glaze: In a small saucepan heat above three ingredients until melted and combined. Take off the heat and keep warm to be used on the chicken at the end of grilling.
For the kabobs: Place chicken in a large shallow bowl and mix in all the ingredients (not the glaze ingredients).
Make sure all chicken pieces are completely coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least six hours and up to two days.
When ready, slide chicken breast pieces close together onto metal skewers, leaving room on each end of the skewer to handle without burning yourself. This also insures the meat is resting on the hottest part of your grill. Heat up charcoal or gas grill to 400 degrees.
Grill kabobs for 8-15 minutes, turning a couple of times. Test the chicken for doneness (when cut, cooked flesh won’t be pink). Take the skewers off the grill and immediately baste with glaze mix.
Remove meat from skewers by and sliding the pieces down the skewer with fork.
Serve on a bed of saffron rice. Traditionally grilled tomatoes and vegetables also are served with this kabob.
Easter cookies and appetizers
Although colored hard-boiled eggs are probably the first Easter foods to come to mind, other foods factor into the traditional Easter meals around the world. Easter cookies and appetizers are must-haves for the holiday table. The LLCC Culinary Institute will be offering an Easter Cookies Class March 21 and Easter Appetizers Class March 28.
Butter Melt-a-ways with Pink Frosting
Makes 3 dozen
As you prepare this dough, you may be tempted to add more butter, thinking you have done something wrong. However, just keep mixing and it will come together into beautiful, almost white dough. The cookies will be almost white even when baked, so don’t over bake them. It may be helpful to double-pan them to keep them light. Cookies bake better on parchment paper, and Chef Terri Branham’s cookie dough never touches the baking sheet. By using portion scoops, your cookies will be round and exactly the same size.
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 3/4 cup cornstarch
* 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 to 1 drop red food coloring
In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Separate dough into four equal parts and roll each into a smooth log. Wrap each log in flour-dusted wax paper. Chill dough for at least six hours. After six hours, allow dough to sit out for 15 minutes to soften.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.
Slice dough into 1/4-inch slices and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks.
In a medium bowl, combine all frosting ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Pipe or dollop a small amount on top of cooled cookies.
Black Bean Salsa in Bacon Cups
Makes 12-16 servings
* 2 packages pancetta or 1 pound bacon, each strip cut into thirds
* 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
* 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
* 2 avocados, diced
* 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
* 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
* 2 limes, juice of
* salt and fresh pepper to taste
-Place one slice of pancetta in each hole of muffin tin. (If using bacon, flip muffin pan over and lay 2 pieces over the bottom like an “X”, then wrap one strip around the sides). Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack using a spatula. Let stand 10 minutes or until crisp.
-Combine all other prepared ingredients, and refrigerate until use. Fill cooled bacon cups with salsa mixture.
-Tips: Pancetta is similar to bacon as they are both cured meats from the pork belly; however, pancetta is not smoked, which makes it more moist and gives it a mild flavor. Pancetta is a round cut, approximately 4 or 5 inches in diameter which makes it ideal to bake in a standard muffin tin to produce an edible cup. Pancetta is popular in Italy, just like bacon in America. It is gaining popularity here, and can be found in a grocer’s deli department. Since it comes from the deli, it can be sliced to order in any thickness.
Want to know more?
The Lincoln Land Community College Culinary Institute offers dinners and classes in baking and cooking labs located in the Workforce Careers Center on the LLCC campus.
Reservations can be made at 786-2432. Find out more at the culinary institute homepage.
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.