Coconut Panna Cotta Recipe


First time I had panna cotta was in a small cafe in Florence. I know, it sounds like such a cliche but really, that's how we met. It was a plain vanilla panna cotta and it was delicious, moist and creamy with a sour fruit syrup on top.  Now, I'm not exactly sure when I started making panna cotta, but I had a lot of failures during this process.  But I think I finally nailed it and created a version of my own, coconut panna cotta.  You will probably laugh after you read the recipe and wonder how I can have so many failures with it, but trust me, YOU WANT TO FOLLOW THE RECIPE.

Here It goes:


Serving: 6 ramekins.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp shredded coconut 
  • 1 pack of powder gelatin
Ingredients for the fruit syrup:
  • 1/2 cup raspberries 
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions:
  1. Pour the milk in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it sit for about 5 min.
  2. Mix in the gelatin with milk.
  3. Put the milk on very low heat and stir the gelatin until it's completely dissolved. Make sure the milk doesn't get too hot or start boiling. If you see steam coming out of the milk, it means it's getting too hot.
  4. After the gelatin is completely dissolved in the milk, add the sugar, stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour the cream in the milk and mix well. Again, make sure the cream and milk are not boiling.
  6. Add the shredded coconut and the vanilla extract and stir well. 
  7. Rub some oil around the ramekins.
  8. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 


 Instructions to make the fruit syrup:

  1. Wash the berries and put them in a saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar and the juice of 1 lime and 1/2 cup water.
  3. Stir well until the sugar gets dissolved and the fruits get soft.
  4. Depending on your taste and how thick you want the syrup to be, let the water dissolve to the desired consistency.
  5. Refrigerate to cool down.



 After the panna cotta has been in the fridge for at least 3 hours, put each ramekin (one by one) in a bowl with hot water for 30 seconds, loosen the edges with a sharp knife without cutting into the panna cotta and flip on a plate. Pour the syrup on top and enjoy.

Apple Pancake

Apple Pancake

It was a tradition in our family that on weekend mornings my dad made breakfast. I always looked forward to his apple pancakes. The juice from the mixture of apples, sugar and cinnamon makes the crust crispy on both sides.  It's the perfect sweet breakfast.

Serving: 2 people

Ingredients

1 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tbs baking powder
pinch of salt

Ingredients for the topping

1 big apple
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs warm water


Peel and cut the apples in thin slices, add cinnamon, brown sugar and water in a bowl and mix well. Let it sit while you make the pancake batter.




Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Mix the eggs with the sugar and milk.  Mix the flour with the salt and baking powder and slowly add it to the egg mixture and whisk until there are no flour lumps.

Heat 1 Tbs of butter in a cast iron pan (or a pan that you can safely put in the oven), pour the pancake mixture in the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the bottom of the pancake gets the shape of the pan.

Place apple slices on the pancake, making a big circle. Repeat this until the surface is filled with apples.


Pour the juice from the mixture on the pancake and put the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Turn the oven broiler on for 2 minutes or until the top gets crispy.

Serve with maple syrup or whipped cream and enjoy!

Apple Pancake






Corn and Leek Soup



Once upon a time, I worked for a cool company and to celebrate one of our successful milestones, we went to Cafe Gibraltar in half moon bay for a private cooking class by the chef. We helped the chef prepare every course and we all sat together and ate and drank and had an amazing time. One of the appetizers was corn and leek soup. I love corn but I never know what to do with leeks. If you think the same way, then here is a start to making good use of this delicious vegetable. I made a few modification to the recipe we were given and made this on a rainy Sunday and it was full of flavors. I mean, who doesn't want soup on a rainy Sunday?

Serving: 4 people

Ingredients

1 bunch leek
2 ribs celery
6 fingerling potatoes
2  cups shaved corn
1/2 chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup shredded carrots
5 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1.5 Tbs fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste


slice the leeks and the celery, add some oil to a deep pan and cook for about 20 minutes. Slice the potatoes and add them to the pan along with the chopped onions and shredded carrots. Add the vegetable stock or water until the ingredients are fully covered in liquid.


Cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Add more water or vegetable stock if needed. Add salt and pepper.
Pour everything in a blender and blend well.

After everything is blended really well, pour the soup back in a pot and add the cream and lime juice. Let it cook for another 10 minutes. Add water depending on how you like the consistency of the soup to be and enjoy.






Steak Fajitas


  Fajitas don't need  much explanation other than they are simple, fast and delicious. So let's just cut to the chase and start cooking.

Ingredients- Serving 2 people

  • 20 ounces top round steak
  • 1/2 red bell pepper 
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped red onions
  • 1 Tbs shredded Cojita cheese (mexican cheese)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 Tbs chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbs Fajita mix (chili powder, ground fennel, ground cumin and cinnamon)
  • 1 lime



Make the Guacamole

Scoop out both avocados in a small bowl and smash them with a fork.  Add the chopped onions, salt, pepper, 1 Tbs chopped cilantro, and juice of 1 lime and mix well. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. 




Make the Steak

Slice the meat in thin stripes, sprinkle with salt, pepper, fajita mix and olive oil. At this point you can either pan fry or bbq or use a cast iron to cook the steak. I use a cast iron because I love the taste and it's fast and easy. Be careful not to over cook the meat, it will cook really fast on a cast iron. Remove them from the grill while you still see some red parts.



Make the Veggies

Cut the bell peppers in thin stripes. You can either use the cast iron or use a skillet to saute them. Again, I used my cast iron.


Assemble the Fajita

Heat the tortillas either in the oven, on the skillet or the cast iron, 40-50 seconds on each side. Put the bell peppers, the meat and top it with the guacamole. Sprinkle with cojita cheese and the rest of the cilantro on top. You can serve with sour cream and black or refried beans. Enjoy!


Moussaka

moussaka

Once upon a time, I went to Greece and fell in love with everything this country had to offer, specially the food.
This was when I realized I've actually never had real Moussaka before and anything I've had before was just a Moussaka wannabe. And so I examined it closely and carefully, I bought a Moussaka meat mix from Athens and tried to come up with the recipe and I, not to brag, mastered it. So I present to you, the real Moussaka.

moussaka
The amazing Moussaka I had in Mykonos, Greece

Ingredients

2 regular eggplants
2 potatoes
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 big yellow onion
4 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs moussaka mix ( black pepper, onion powder, nutmeg, coriander, parsley and spearmint)
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Ingredients for the Bechamel sauce 

3/4 stick unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste



Instructions
  1. Wash and slice the eggplants like the picture below. Add some salt to the slices and let them sit in a strainer. This will prevent the eggplants from absorbing a lot of oil.




  2.  Cover two oven trays with foil and spay them with vegetable oil. Dry the eggplants with paper towels and place them on the trays. Slightly brush the eggplants with vegetable oil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the eggplants become soft.
  3. Cut the onion, fry them in a pan until golden, add the meat and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and the tomato paste, mix well and add the moussaka mix.
  4. Make the Bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a sauce pan, mix well with flour. Put the sauce pan on low heat and slowly add the milk. Stir until the sauce becomes a bit thick. Add salt.
  5. Prepare the pyrex dish: Brush the dish with vegetable oil and pour some Bechamel on the bottom of the dish. Set the first layer with the sliced potatoes, then a layer of eggplants then a layer of meat. Pour some Bechamel on the meat and set the second layer of eggplants followed by a layer of meat. Repeat this step until you either run out of ingredients or there is no more room in the dish.
  6. Lastly, cover the last layer with the cheese, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do :).

Maple Glazed Peach French Toast



On a sunny Saturday morning, I woke up with a big appetite and a creative mind. Not sure how I came up with the idea of peach and maple but it sounded good. Luckily, I had all the ingredients at home. I had bought a french baguette from Acme Bread the night before, a bottle of Maple syrup imported from Canada by my sister and a big fat beautiful peach. This usually never happens so I got to work and in less than thirty minutes, I had an awesome breakfast on my plate.



Ingredients

1 French baguette
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 peach
2 tbs rum

Directions

Peel and slice the peach like the picture below. Mix the peach with the maple syrup and rum. Cook them in a skillet for about 5 minutes or until they become a bit soft.



Beat the eggs and add the milk. Mix well and add a pinch of salt.
Slice the bread to your desired thickness ( I like them thin) and soak them in the egg mixture and let it sit for about 3,4 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan (you need the oil to cover about 1/2 inch depth of the pan), carefully set the bread pieces in the pan and fry each side until they are golden. Remove from the pan and set them on a piece of paper towel to soak the extra oil.

Put one slice of peach on each slice of bread and pour some of the juice left from the peach and maple mix on top. You can also decorate the french toast with shaved almond and powder sugar.

Enjoy!


Persian Style Chicken Curry



We Persians like to come up with our own version of pretty much any cuisine. We add Saffron or lime juice to anything you can think of and call it our own :). We have our own version of Beef Stroganoff, which is served with string potatoes instead of noodles, our own version of Spaghetti (which we call Macaroni- we even have our name for this dish), which has saffron in the meat (yes, saffron in Italian food), and finally the Persian Style Chicken curry which is one of my favorites. Without getting into too much details, here is the recipe.


Serving: 4 people

Ingredients

1/2 lb. chicken thighs
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup green peas (frozen or canned)
1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 cup sautéed mushrooms
3 Tbs Madras curry powder
1 Tbs corn starch.
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop the onions finely. Add oil to a pan and fry the onions until golden. Add the chicken  thighs to the onions and saute them for about 5 minutes or until the outer surface of the chicken becomes golden. Add the curry powder, mix well and add about 4 cups of water, then add the peas, salt and pepper, and let it cook for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, wash the mushrooms, slice them and saute them with butter in a separate skillet.


Add the cream and the yogurt to the chicken mix, stir well and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Dissolve the corn starch in 1/2 cup cold water and add to the mixture. The corn starch will help thicken the stew. Add the lime juice and  let the stew cook for 10 more minutes or until it thickens a little bit.


Finally add the mushrooms.  Serve with Basmati rice and enjoy!