February 17, 2015


I bought Louisa Shafia's The New Persian Kitchen ages ago, but we hadn't put it to proper use until last week. When I first brought her beautiful book home, I bookmarked a bunch of tempting recipe, but as with so many of my cookbooks, I love to peruse the recipes and pages yet I don't always carve out the time to cook from them. I'm glad I finally took the plunge with Louisa.

Despite the crazy summer weather we're having here in the Bay Area, everyone in my little family has been battling sniffles, coughs and belly aches over the past few weeks, and we've been in serious need of comfort food. The kids always ask for Paul's classic and simple chicken soup. My Cozy Winter Stew (recipe in my book) is on heavy rotation around here and always a crowd-pleaser, but I've also been craving something new.

Louisa's Persian twist on Matzoh Ball Soup totally satisfies - the hints of turmeric and cardamom warm the belly; homemade chicken broth soothes; citrus juice, dill, and baby spinach bring out amazing freshness; and the dumplings - made with chickpea flour, onion, spices and ground chicken (vegetarian friends, you can use tofu instead) - are the worthy heroes of this dish. The "matzoh balls" are fluffy in texture, yet dense with protein and flavor. Thank goodness we finally tried this soup... I strongly suggest you do the same. Pronto.

INGREDIENTS adapted from Louisa Shafia's The New Persian Kitchen
Serves 4-6
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey or tofu
  • 12 cups homemade chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 large carrot or 6 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh dill, parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Lime wedges for serving*
  • optional: a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves (Note: Louisa doesn't call for any greens, but I can't help myself. I love wilted greens in soup!)

* Louisa's recipe called for 4 dried limes to add to the broth, but I wasn't able to find them at my local market, so I squeezed in fresh lime juice at serving time.

At least 4 hours before you want to eat, or even the night before you want to serve the soup, prep the matzoh balls. Get out your food processor and puree the yellow onions. Scoop pureed onions into a large mixing bowl and whisk in egg, minced garlic, cardamom, turmeric, grapeseed oil, 2 teaspoons salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Finally add chickpea flour and ground chicken. Stir to combine. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 4 -24 hours. You'll need the batter to be chilled in order to form the balls later.

After adequate chilling, go ahead and form little round dumplings with your hands. First, wet your hands with cool tap water, then pinch off walnut-sized pieces and roll to make your "matzoh" balls.

In the meantime, in a large stockpot or Dutch Oven, heat 12 cups of broth (with 2 teaspoons sea salt) until it reaches a rolling boil. One at a time, carefully lower dumplings to the hot broth. (I found that I had more dumplings than I needed or that would fit properly into pot, so I saved a batch to make more soup the next day. I think you could also freeze any extra dumplings.) Cover the pot, turn the heat to low so that the broth simmers and let the dumplings cook for 50 minutes. When the dumplings are done, they will be firm in the center.

Use a slotted spoon to remove cooked dumplings from the broth and briefly set aside. Add sliced carrots and chickpeas to the hot broth. Bring liquid to a boil, then lower heat, simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Add fresh lemon juice just before serving, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

For each serving, place 3-5 matzoh balls into a bowl. Add a handful of baby spinach, if that appeals to you. Ladle the soup over the top. Top with plenty of fresh herbs, squeeze on fresh lime and add a little salt or pepper to your liking.


P.S. That beautiful bowl in the top photo was a gift from my amazingly talented friend, Sarah Kersten.

January 13, 2015


HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!  I don't know about you guys, but every time the New Year comes around I'm so grateful for the citrus bounty. What better way to bring brightness to winter than cutting open a Meyer lemon, Ruby Red grapefruit, juicy little Kishu, or sumptuous blood orange?

These past few weeks, we've been downing citrus like we're in a heavy battle against scurvy. While I'm always happy to devour citrus in its unadorned natural state, I've been having fun caramelizing the fruit under the broiler. I've played around with a bunch of tasty flavor combos, but my favorite of the moment is pomelo slathered in honey, topped with a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg. I think this simple treat would make a delicious partner to so many breakfasts and brunches - from eggs and bacon to a hearty bowl of oatmeal.

I hope the new year is treating you well so far. Here's to a delicious 2015!

  • 2 ripe pomelos (Ruby Red grapefruits would make a nice substitute)
  • 4 heaping teaspoons honey
  • freshly grated nutmeg (please please grate whole nutmeg yourself with a microplaner - the freshly grated spice is so much more aromatic than the pre-ground variety) - keep in mind... if you're not a fan of nutmeg, you could use cinnamon instead
Slice pomelos in half. (I suggest cutting a slice off the bottom of each half so that the pomelos will stay stable with a nice flat surface.)

Crank up your broiler.

Place pomelo halves on a baking sheet, face up. Slather a heaping spoonful of honey onto the flesh of each pomelo.

Place pomelos under the broiler until the tops are bubbling and the pith turns golden brown. (This takes about 5 minutes with my broiler.) Pull the tray from the broiler and immediately grate nutmeg over the pomelos - it will happily blend with the warm honey and juicy citrus.

Serve warm.

December 10, 2014


I thought about sharing a decadent holiday recipe with you today. After all, this is the time of year for indulgences like Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups with Flaky Sea Salt, Bourbon Braised Short Ribs with Brown Sugar and Coffee, Parmesan Polenta with Garlicky Rapini and Black Olives, and Quick and Easy Peppermint Bark. In the midst of the abundance of decadent fare, I wanted to share something soothing, a simple tool to care for yourself and your loved ones this time of year. (Don't get me wrong, I'm a supporter of holiday indulgence. In fact, if these festive holiday recipes are what you're craving, my cookbook has all of these recipes and more.)

If you feel a little chilled, have a scratchy throat, or harbor a funky belly needing a break from holiday gluttony, nothing soothes like Fresh Ginger Tea with a heaping spoon of honey and a good squeeze of lemon. I'm guessing we could all use a simple treat for ourselves this time of year, an easy quiet moment to catch our breath in the midst of holiday shopping, parties, and crowds.

Happiest of holidays to you all!

  • 2 ounce nub of fresh ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • honey
  • 1-2 lemons
Peel your ginger then give the peeled ginger a quick whack with a mallet or the flat side of a heavy chef's knife to crush the root a bit, which will allow the flavors to release more easily in the hot water.

Place the crushed ginger in a medium saute pan with 4 cups cool tap water. Bring the water to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to achieve a gentle simmer. Set your timer for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes of simmering you should have a flavorful ginger tea that's strong enough to have a nice spicy kick at the back of throat. (If you like your tea even stronger, feel free to let it steep longer.)

Pour the hot tea through a strainer into individual tea cups. Add a heaping scoop of honey ( maybe even a tablespoon or so) to each cup along with the juice of half a lemon. Stir to blend all ingredients and taste for seasoning. Add a little more honey or lemon to your liking and if the tea is a bit strong for you, you can always add a splash of hot water.

Whatever tea you don't drink right away can be stored in a jar in the fridge. I suggest storing strained ginger tea without the honey and lemon added. When you reheat the tea, add the honey and lemon just before serving.

Serves 2-3

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